Baby Steps to Destruction of the World We Know

I returned two really nice books to a large chain bookstore using their included gift receipts. It is my intention to buy these same books in their electronic form for my Kindle. I felt especially bad about this when, as I was driving my car today–with the soon-to-be-returned books in the passenger seat beside me, I heard on the radio that two Barnes and Noble stores are closing down in towns surrounding L.A. I know my own buying habits are contributing to the demise of the brick-and-mortar bookstores I love. But then I reasoned that A gift return isn’t cash, it is a gift card. I spent my gift card right away, on magazines, and a half-sweet green tea latte. It was really fun, because I never buy magazines. So really, the bookstore still got my money, and now I’ll buy two books for my Kindle I might not have thought to buy previously, so I like to believe that everybody wins, but I have trouble believing that someday, when there are only virtual bookstores, that don’t sell green tea lattes, I won’t feel somehow complicit.

5 thoughts on “Baby Steps to Destruction of the World We Know

  1. Things are changing for sure. I see bookstores adapting or dying out, being publishing firms shedding staff and expensive premises an hopefully writers getting a larger cut of the action.

  2. Text I sent yesterday to a friend:"Dilemma: do I support a brick and mortar bookstore by keeping the hunger games trilogy bought there or get them cheaper at target and return others to borders? [sic]"I never heard back so I wandered around Target and made up my mind to keep the more expensive set I bought at Borders because I had used a coupon so I didn't pay full price and I wanted to support Borders (but I also wonder if there was a certain amount of laziness involved).

  3. Sean,I love the ability to browse through many books on a topic–like if I' were looking at a diet book, a disease book, a psychology or self-help book. You immediately get a real sense of how thick a book is, how many pages it has. From the cover design you can tell who it is marketed to. Is it a book about autism for the layperson, for an academic, for a parent or a person who has it? And even for fiction, I love to browse, open up various books, see the phrasing and the language and feel if is pulling me in. Although all this is possible "shopping online," I don't think it is really as efficient, or as fun. As a writer, I spend an insane amount of time staring at my computer screen–and though I love writing, and appreciate the ability to do research so immediately, I don't have a long tolerance for "browsing." For me, internet shopping is for finding things I seek, whereas a bookstore is a place to make discoveries. A library provides the same things, but I fear that if there is no money in physical books, there will be no reason to print physical books and house them in large buildings for people to look at for free.Finally, even if I end up reading a book on my kindle, I like having a sense of it's physicality "in the real world," I like knowing how many pages it is that I'm reading. Maybe the newer generations think in word count to such an extent that it doesn't make a difference to them, but I tend to feel a little lost in an eBook when i haven't ever seen the real one…there are no page numbers!So that's me. Do you have any irrational affection for the brick and mortar, or do you embrace the future?

  4. I do love bookstores. Aside from gaming shops(ie table top rpgs) they are the one place will check out in a city.I now live about 40 minutes away from a book store of any description and none of those has the atmosphere that I like. I like quaint out of the way places that hide books that are out of print.So the benefits to me are all atmospheric.I have created a library room at home – still trying to get my wife to allow me to install floor to ceiling book cases with a ladder on casters :)I mourn the loss of the bricks and mortar bookstore -though I am not sure they will disappear totally.Perhaps instead of having coffee shops in bookstores we'll have bookstores in coffee shops ala POD services.

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