Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bookstores: Borders Closing

While on vacation, touring Alaska, I checked out the bookstores in several cities. Not exactly surprising, many little towns we visited didn't have any, but I found the Hearthside Books in Juneau, and low and behold . . . I was thrilled to see that they had our own Kaki Warner's newest release.

Then yesterday I saw the very sad announcement that all Borders stores will be closing by September. Borders bankrupt? For good? Borders is . . . a giant. They can't be just a memory. I guess I figured there'd be some solution. The airlines and car industries go into bankruptcy every now and then and some solution is dreamed up to save them. I somehow just figured it'd all work out for Borders too. I guess not. I know it's not a fair comparison, but to a writer, the publishing industry and books are our livelihood. Borders is closing. Soon. So. Sad!

Now I'm an Amazon fan and love to save money as much as the next guy, but as a writer, I also spend the extra money and buy from Independent as well as chain bookstores. For a society that seems to trend more and more towards immediate gratification . . . this seems inconsistent. There are times when I don't want to wait for Amazon to ship me a book. Occasionally--not often--but occasionally, I'm an impulse buyer. Now I guess all my impulse book buying will have to be at Barns and Noble--or target or the grocery store.

Or is Borders demise a function of the increasing popularity of ebooks? Will ebooks take over some day and print books will go the way of vinyl records? Print books will just be memorabilia for collectors? How sad. Will the closing of Borders force people like me to buy Kindles and other E-readers to satisfy that instant gratification habit?

I know, I know. I shouldn't be surprised. People have been forecasting this for years. But still it makes me sad and leaves me feeling disconcerted and disoriented.

What are your thoughts?


Donnell said...

Ditto, T. This is part of the ever-evolving technology syndrome. I know, let's open a tanning, tattoo, coffee shop, and as an aside sell books. What is wrong with this picture?

Vince said...

Hi Theresa:

It is sad about Borders but this is just the beginning. Ebook readers will eventually get down to $5 to $10 for basic models. At this price print books will not make economic sense. This will be like the box of film becoming the camera.

Once most people get used to downloading eBooks from Amazon, what will stop them from just downloading the same books for free from the library? And why would we need more than a few libraries in the whole country? How many Amazon bookstores do we need?

Libraries will become like museums holding books that have not been reduced to digit format. Libraries do have a chance of surviving if they adapt and offer other community services. Since eBook readers can read the text out loud, many children will finish school without having to learn to read. Making children learn to read will be seen as being discriminatory. Laws will be passed making it mandatory for all public documents, as well as employment forms, to be in eBook readable format.

I think we are heading for a future where most people will not know how to read or write. The new breed of writer will use voice recognition software and dictate her books.

Lament Borders but remember that Borders is only the canary in the cave.


Calisa Rhose said...

I have to say I love your fave quote, Lynne. And your book will be my first older heroine to read, and she's still slightly younger than me, but I can't wait. Kudos to you for putting yourself out there!