The spoken word immediately drifts away in the wind but the printed word lingers forever, it has been said and written.

As an avid reader of books, newspapers and The Best Times, I was perplexed to learn of the recent decision by Kroger to pull the free publications from all Kroger stores nationwide as of the issue you’re reading.

I hope it wasn’t a tendentious act based on a premise that so many people read online these days. While this may have a grain of truth at least, I know there are yet millions who read paper--not necessarily just folks over, say, 40.

While Kroger has some other problems in the Memphis area, this is one they have created themselves since the evidence is clear: In the three or four Krogers I shop in weekly I usually find The Best Times racks empty by the end of the month. This is as valuable a publication as any in the area since I find so much of the information useful ranging from health matters to entertainment to nursing home and home health care data. The latter I still use for my remaining long-term care insurance clients since the choices are imminent for many of them.

The Times has a socially entertaining side as well since some of the important events are covered with featured participants pictured. Thus, there’s a sentimental and historical aspect.

I could go on forever on the value of the publication, which will be maintained for ages in many domestic and office archives.

While the publications may be located in other venues, the convenience of Kroger is superb, especially for folks who have trouble getting around well. For many, Kroger is the main trip of their week and they looked forward to shopping and picking up a copy of The Best Times.

As a regular shopper myself, a normal everyday shopper, and a somewhat ambitious foodie, I find Kroger to be a very good shopping experience among a friendly staff. I put many of the ones I’ve shopped here right up with some of the Tesco’s in England and Wales and stores I’ve shopped in Ireland.

I hope the fateful decision to eliminate the free publications section will soon be cast to the wind.

Aaron F Tatum is the author of the novel ““Shakespeare’s Secrets.”

A local author and reader of The Best Times comments on Kroger's decision to eliminate free publications from its stores nationwide.

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