Thursday, August 4, 2011

So Sad - The End of Our Bookstores?

All I have heard is people expressing sadness over the closing of Borders. I feel the same way. Not just because it seems to be a frightening end of an era for all of us baby-boomers, but because I have personal feelings about our Borders as well.

There is a Borders right around the corner from my house. My husband and I went through some difficult years, in part, because we were restricted in where we could go and how long we could stay away from the house. Borders became a haven for us. It was sort of like our date night during the week where we could browse in the relative quiet with a coffee or a chai tea latte ( I never got over them changing my favorite chai tea to something much less tasty). We'd go our separate ways but end up back in the cafe sharing what we'd found on our journeys through the store. There was always something new to see. For a while my writer's group met there in the cafe as well. It just seemed like a natural place for writers to meet.

I completely understand the prominence and importance of electronic media. I have no problem with people who are enamored of their Kindles or Nooks. I think shopping on Amazon is fine if you know exactly what book you're looking for. But browse the Internet for a good book? I don't think so.

How many times has the cover or title of a book caught your eye? Then what did you do? You picked the book up, maybe read the cover, flipped through, felt it in your hands, noticed how many pages it had. Then maybe you put it back on the shelf - only to come back later when you realized you wanted to read it.

I can't imagine how many books I would NOT have read if I hadn't been able to peruse them in the book store. That is being taken away from us now.

The only bright spot I can see in the closing of so many "big box" bookstores is a reverse in the dwindling number of independent book stores. Did you ever see the movie - "You've Got Mail"? Your heart breaks when Meg Ryan has to close her mother's children's book store in the middle of New York City because she has been run out of business. Now the independent stores that have somehow survived those years I think will begin to thrive because book-lovers love looking at and holding real books. I think this is true for my generation and my children's generation as well.

When my daughter was a young girl she was in love with "The Babysitter's Club" books. It was an anticipated event to get to the bookstore on the day the new one came out to buy it. I had little money then, but nothing made me happier than buying a book for her that I knew she would read and enjoy. We would arrive at home and she would immediately crawl into her bed and start reading. How would that have compared to ordering it on the web for a 9 year-old?

I'm not sure what will become of actual physical books once the children born in this millennium grow up. All I know is that all three times I have opened a box and pulled out a book that I wrote and held it in my hands, I cried. Writing those books would have never felt complete without seeing it in someone's hands - or seeing it on my bookshelf.


Moohaa said...

All I can say is AMEN. I agree with everything you said. I can't imagine a world without books or going somewhere and browsing. Our local Borders is closing too. It's sad. I understand the need for Kindle's and all, but I think I'll be the last person to own one.

Chelsea said...

It is frustrating. I absolutely love browsing through Borders or BN all day for books (and CDs, yet another dying media). As far as eReaders, I personally stay away from them because of my own love of the printed word as well (I'm an English major a.k.a. hardcore literary weirdo). But I don't think they are the source of the problem, but just another nail in the coffin. I think TV and later computer and video games killed books. Most people in general don't read anymore, even eBooks. It's sad. But, I loved reading your post, it was nice to see a similar opinion.