...at least, you would think it was doomsday, the way all the media yesterday blamed Borders' bankruptcy on digital publishing.
generally, i avoid the e-pub talk, because i am still forming my opinions.
some days i think,
"meh. so we all go digital. it happened to musicians, and they survived. sure, i no longer have stacks of pretty CD cases with covers to admire or books of lyrics to read, but honestly - i probably buy a lot more music now than i did when i had to get in my car and go somewhere to buy it. a LOT more."
other days i think,
"Nooooooooooooo!! Don't take my beautiful books!!" Then I gather up a pile of beaten-up old books from my shelves and smell them and pet them and cuddle with them... okay, not really - that you know of anyway - but you get the idea.
i do love books, but i am prepared to embrace the day (possibly in my lifetime) when 90% of books are read on computer screens. i'm ready.
but i am NOT ready to lose my bookstores!
when i first heard Borders might start closing stores, i thought it was a bummer, but i didn't think it would impact me personally. i live in a big city. surely our stores are performing well.
and i only flinched a little yesterday when i heard seven of the eleven stores in my city would be among those shut down. it wasn't until i saw MY Borders was on the list that i gasped.
now, that feels real.
suddenly, it's not just another bookstore.
it's the place i haul my laptop when i need to get out of the house and be surrounded by other people sipping coffee and staring at their computers. it's the place that makes those little sandwiches i love. it's the place that puts the YA section right in the heart of the store, like it's the most important section of all. it's the place of familiar faces behind the counters, of customers who are also my neighbors and of ladies who play Mahjong in the coffee shop at lunch time.
it's MY bookstore, and it matters to me.
i comforted myself with thoughts of, "well, now i'll just spend more time at my favorite indie bookstore" (even though it's a 40-minute drive away) and "i'll get to know the layout at B&N" (even though the closest one is a 20-minute drive away).
but guess what? not every customer will do that.
my TV station covered the story of Borders yesterday, and we sent our crew to MY Borders and had them interview customers, and you know what they said in almost every single interview?
they all said some variation of,
-well, i guess we'll shop online for books.
-too bad, but we can always download to our Nook.
-time to get a Kindle!
in a city the size of Phoenix, in a neighborhood practically in the dead-center of that city - people expect convenience. they balk at the idea of driving 20 or 40 minutes just to buy something that should be as easily accessible as a BOOK.
so while i don't know how much of Borders' demise is directly related to the growth of e-books, i do think closing its stores will push some customers INTO e-books. and that has the potential to draw more readers away from other, still thriving, bookstores. it's a cycle, feeding off itself. readers will still read. they'll just find another way to access their stories. and they'll get their coffee and play their Mahjong somewhere else.
in the end, only book lovers (and by that, i mean those of us who love the feel of a slim paper page between our fingers and the weight of a hardcover in our hands) - only BOOK lovers will chain themselves to the doors of bookstores and cry, "DOOM!"
and that is a doomsday i hope i never see.