I learned about paper towns by coming across one during a road trip my junior year of college. My traveling companion and I kept driving up and down the same desolate stretch of highway in South Dakota, searching for this town the map promised existed — as I recall, the town was called Holen. Finally, we pulled into a driveway and knocked on a door. The friendly woman who answered had been asked the question before. She explained that the town we were seeking existed only on the map.
The story of Agloe, New York — as outlined in this book — is mostly true. Agloe began as a paper town created to protect against copyright infringement. But then people with those old Esso maps kept looking for it, and so someone built a store, making Agloe real. The business of cartography has changed a lot since Otto G. Lindberg and Ernest Alpers invented Agloe. But many mapmakers still include paper towns as copyright traps, as my bewildering experience in South Dakota attests.
The store that was Agloe no longer stands. But I believe that if we were to put it back on our maps, someone would eventually rebuild it.