The little shop front sits sandwiched tightly between a bagel shop and a specialty women’s clothing store. Broken shelving still remains. An abandoned roll of packing tape is the sole sentry on the work worn checkout counter. Dust hugging the broad picture window allows enough slivers of filtered light to view the scuff marked floor where not so long past feet stood planted as pages were turned. Giggles from children discovering new worlds have faded into the now bare walls. Fare thee well sweet bookstore.
I am a big fan of the written word. Huge actually. And I am thrilled to say that this passion has been genetically preprogrammed into my offspring. Whew – big sigh of relief when they all turned up literate. One of our best family outings is a trip to the bookstore. Aisles filled with adventures waiting to be embarked upon, information on every subject imaginable and the sound of book bindings cracking open for someone’s private perusal. Ah, bliss.
Except for one big problem. Those book stores are becoming harder and harder to come by. And this is a huge problem for all of us. (Collective us – meaning YOU!!!) A few months ago when major book retailer Border’s® shuttered their windows and hung up the “out of business” signs the reality of how readers consume today’s words hit home.
Go online or go extinct seems to be the new order of writing. E-books, E-zines, E-everything……if you head over to the Barnes and Noble® website or the all-consuming Amazon.com® you will find that books are offered in both physical and electronic form. What’s becoming more common is to find publications only available via e-book or print on demand.
There are definitely upsides to the written word hitting the open airwaves. For one, many a forest will breathe easier. Ease of access from any locale and the lower costs of downloading are big bonuses. Also on the plus side is the space (or lack of) that devices like the Nook®, Kindle®, e-reader®, etc. take up in the world.
Sounds awesome. Progress is great. Any downsides? Umm, yeah. The move to electronic everything has opened the doors to a total free for all on the internet. Anyone can publish anything (yes, even me). As the traditional gatekeepers to publishing heaven are being nudged aside a new wave of writing and media has emerged. It’s like Haight-Asbury’s Summer of Love but on a global scale. How do you weed out the Janis Joplin’s from the fray?
From the wild ride we are on now will ideally emerge a middle ground that calls to both the traditionalist and the techie. In my family we are a home of Kindles and laptops AND piles of books towering on every surface.
Where does that leave readers who crave not just the ease of technology, but the physical act of holding a book, turning the pages, and walking the aisles to find just the right read? Somehow gathering the entire family around the Kindle® is just not the same as the adventure of the tangible book store.
For now, it leaves us in a local Barnes & Noble® or if we are able to find one, a privately owned book store. If you need help locating these brick and mortar establishments check out sites like this one by publisher Random House® that locate local stores carrying their books: http://www.randomhouse.com/bookstores/local.html
Luckily our tactile senses can still be appeased as we creak open the binding on our next story.