19 July 2011

RIP Borders

Of all the commentary on yesterday's announcement that Borders would be liquidated, its stores closed starting this Friday and its 10,700 employees let go -- more dead than the last death -- this one really hit home for me.

Granted, as an author Lancaster is somewhat biased. But so are we all reading this. Borders wasn't the best bookstore, but in a lot of places, it was the only bookstore... and now there will be none there. Where people once had the pick of thousands of titles, they will now have to be content with two rows of shelves at Target, or that one at the pharmacy (if the pharmacy even has one). My A.V. Club colleague Keith Phipps put it like this: "Wasn’t it kind of nice that, for a blip in time of about 15 years, stores for book lovers competed for space shoulder-to-shoulder with housewares stores and chain restaurants? The next generation of readers aren’t going to be stumbling into a place that overwhelms them with the sheer volume of books out there to be discovered." What you aren't exposed to, what you can't see, you can't read.

So today I ordered my book club book from the Strand instead of buying it on Kindle (by price they were almost the same anyway) -- and when I go to pick it up I will probably be tempted by something else in there, and buy another book I don't need, but at least I did that. I should be buying local more often anyway, and... I don't want to know that I didn't at least do a little. (And yeah, I realize the ironic juxtaposition between this post and news, and yesterday's celebratory note on Greenlight, an indie I love and do support.) 

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