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 Amazon.com 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?