Well, I guess the writing was on the wall last spring when the first round of Borders store closures hit my town. I can’t say I’m surprised (is anyone?), but I am sadder than I thought I’d be at the whimpering death of a big chain store. So many others are seeing the end of the same cycle that we witnessed a few months ago. The big chain comes to town, aces out the little guy mom n’ pop independent booksellers, which makes us all grumble about the unfairness of it all, but ultimately we get used to it and frequent the big behemoth, even though we swore we never would. And then, just when we were comfortable with the whole thing, WHAM! The only bookstore left in town is gone.
I guess a lot of folks are in our shoes because if there was a Borders in your small town, odds are pretty good that there really wasn’t an independent bookseller anymore. Borders took care of that (with a little help from A*&^$n of course), so now they are leaving a huge void everywhere that they were. We aren’t holding our breath, but we are still desperately hoping that a Literature-Loving Tech Mogul will open an independent store in our town. It has to be somebody who is in it strictly for the love of the written word, because this is clearly not a get-rich kind of business anymore.
As I’ve mentioned here before, my family has already come up with the business plan for this LLTM who wants to open a store. We’ve even revised it a bit to reflect the changing nature of the industry. We figure that people will always buy media, like books, music, videos, games, etc. And the fact that that can be done online will clearly never change. But what about those of us who like to browse it first—flip through the pages of the book, sample a couple of tracks on the album, peruse 80’s DVD’s without using the back button on the browser….? When technology is ready for electronic media and paper media to exist and be sold all in one store (maybe this new “cloud computing” thing can help us out here?), we will be ready to go. Come on in and browse with your kids on a Friday night, then the oldsters like me will buy a paperback and a DVD and the kids can purchase a download for their e-reader or iPod on the spot, whatever brand it is, and whether they have it with them or not. That’s why we need the tech mogul—he or she will figure that small logistical part out.
Sigh. Until the altruistic LLTM comes to town, ready to save the day so that our children’s children will learn to love the quaint little idea of an actual book-selling storefront as much as we do, we watch with sadness as the Borders era comes to an end.