Sunday, February 20, 2011

Competition is good, and change isn't easy

I’m sure most of you know Borders is closing many stores, including the one by my house. I had noticed that the stock seemed to be dwindling during the past year, and was hoping that Christmas sales would put them back on track.

When I typed that first line, I accidentally typed “stories” instead of “stores.” Talk about a Freudian slip, because that’s what it feels like. Our stories will be limited. Where will we get our stories? How will we survive? I love Borders, along with all the other bookstores I frequent. What will happen to books? Are they on their way to becoming obsolete? I don’t think so.

Television didn’t kill the movies, albums and CDs didn’t kill radio, the internet didn’t kill newspapers (although that struggle continues) and electronic readers haven’t killed books made from paper. Maybe they will, eventually.

Do you think bookstores will go the way of full-service gas stations? Will we tell our children and grandchildren about bookstores that will seem as foreign to them as rationing food did to us when we heard stories about WWII from our parents and grandparents?

Maybe bookstores will take the movie rental route and there will be kiosks at fast food restaurants and grocery stores. I admit, it just won’t be the same. I loved going to Blockbuster, and I loved going to Borders. (The Blockbuster by my house is now an AT&T Store and a Jimmy Johns.)

But has the closing of my local Blockbuster limited my access to movies? No. Can you say “Netflix?” I get movies delivered to my house, and am able to access them online. Only the technology has changed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not made of stone. I will definitely miss being able to sit and read in Borders, surrounded by others who love books as much as I do.

But it’s not about the medium. It’s about the information. Where will we get our information? Maybe in 10 or 20 years we won’t even use computers. Maybe a new technology is being developed right now that will make the PC and Mac obsolete. It doesn’t matter where we get our information, as long as we are able to get it. I’m glad we live in a society where most people have access to the variety of ideas offered in books and magazines. We just may have to access those ideas somewhere we can’t even conceive of right now.

Obviously, the book industry has changed. If everyone felt the way I do, then Borders wouldn’t close. But be honest. How many books have you ordered from vs. going to the Borders, or Barnes & Noble, or your local independent bookstore and buying it there?

Competition is good. Change isn’t always easy. I don’t know when it will close, but the Borders by my house will be missed. Let’s look to the future and ask ourselves, what’s next?


  1. Mary, I'm ashamed to admit I order from amazon because it's quicker and easier sometimes. I also borrow from the library a lot because it's cheaper than buying books. But lately I've been trying to stop by a bookstore--a couple of independent bookstores, especially--and purchase books once in awhile. I think it's important to support our independent sellers and our authors. Besides--I still love the feel of a real book in my hands; nothing beats it.

  2. Mary,
    It is a scary thought, isn't it? The changes are happening so quickly in the literary world. I think I will be one of the hold outs. I prefer a book to a Nook or other electronic reader.

  3. Great post, Mary. I believe the same things. I also believe that e-books and Kindles aren't the main reason for Borders closing some of their stores. I think theirs had more to do with bad management,etc. And I'm also like Dianna. Sometimes I buy from Amazon, because it's "easier", "cheaper", or I remember at midnight that I really want to order a certain book! I, too, stop and buy from small, local stores..including book stores, coffee shops, donut shops, gift shops. If we don't support them, they too will go out of business.

  4. Great post,I miss the book stores already! Everyone around me is so into their Nook or Kindle... convenient, maybe, cheaper version of many of the same books, yes... but I am a holdout out for the paper version, the smell when you walk into a library or bookstore. The endless rows of covers to choose from. The opportunity to sit and read, glance through to see if 'this book' is truly the one I was looking for.

  5. I agree with every comment here. Dianna, I've done the same thing, especially at Christmas when I didn't have a lot of time to go to a store, Amazon was easy. I do still love the experience of going to bookstores, and holding a book in my hand. I try to frequent them as much as possible, too!