We’ve seen it coming for a few years now; bookstores closing — everywhere. I read an article in the New York Times last weekend about the demise of these treasured establishments not being able to compete with online technology.
The article was about how so many well-known bookstore chains have closed due to our being able to load thousands of books on those little tablets that are so popular. I don’t have one and every time I think about buying one, I cringe a little. Is it so hard to carry the book you’re reading? Do we have to have thousands with us at all times?
As the article went on to state, the giant left standing is Barnes and Noble, “with 703 bookstores . . . in 50 states.” But, it’s far behind its nemesis, Amazon, as far as profitability. Publishers are scared. Book publishing is what they do and as writers, each of us want to see our works in print. Not downloaded and read on a screen.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d take it, but I want a book. Something with weight, a nice jacket cover with a bio and a short synopsis inside the flap about what you’re about to read.
I’ve always loved walking into a bookstore. I still go to the library (and shame on any of you that are within driving/train/walking distance to the New York Public Library and haven’t visited it — it’s phenomenal). But even the small libraries I love; the smell, the aisles and aisles of millions of words encased in books that writers have lovingly and painstakingly written.
Barnes & Noble, according to the article, is staying alive with their introduction of the Nook to compete with the Kindle and Ipad. They’ve jazzed up their interiors with those modern, bright desks — all decked out with Nooks — in a range of colors and prices and sweet little jacket covers to protect them.
I walk over to the books; still. I pick one out that catches my eye. Open it up, read the dedication, synopsis, view the picture of the author, read the first few paragraphs and decide if I want to purchase it or not. I lose all track of time exploring the thousands of books and maybe I’ll try a new author or go back to my favorites and find out what they’ve been up to — what they’re writing.
Maybe the chain bookstores are realizing a bit of karma, they drove the small bookstores out of business. Although if you’re ever in Memphis, Tennessee, there’s one that’s still standing — Burke’s Books, a kind of icon there. John Grisham shows his loyalty, usually holding his first book signing there for his novels since the big guys wouldn’t give him the time of day in his early days.
According to the article since 2002, one out of five independent bookstores have closed and when Borders went out of business in 2011, over 600 vanished.
I’m not against technology and I’d certainly welcome my work to be published in ebook form, but I guess I’m a purist. When I curl up on the couch on a rainy day to read, I want to do so with a good book, not a good Nook.