An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Where Have all the Bookstores Gone?

Where have all the bookstores gone? Today marked the beginning of the end of Borders, which follows on the heals of Books-a-Million closing last year. To say that our family is heartbroken is putting it mildly.

I realize that online stores (Amazon) and personal readers (Kindles, etc.) make it all too easy to purchase and/or download a book, and before I go any further, let me just say that I use both. The one-click order button on Amazon is my best friend, and on our recent two week road trip I appreciated the convenience of carrying a kindle.

But never ever did I think they would totally replace the corner bookstore.

For our family, Sunday afternoons were all about browsing in a bookstore. We particularly liked Books-a-Million, and upon entering we all scattered to our favorite sections: Joe went to the sports section, I went to the travel and cooking, Timothy went to play with the Thomas trains, and Nicholas and Jonathan lounged in the young adult section.

We spent at least an hour browsing, walking around until a title, or a front cover, or even the color of book spine made us pause. We looked through giant coffee table books, browsed through the gift section, purchased a hot chocolate. The cashier knew us and we became friends with her.

And now, even Borders is closing. I walked in there yesterday, but had to leave; it was just too sad watching people swarm in and take advantage of the liquidation sale. My friend said it was as if vultures had descended, and watching everyone picking, grabbing and discarding, it was a good description.

This afternoon, borrowing the tune of Peter, Paul, and Mary's Where Have all the Flowers Gone, I posted the following on facebook:

Where have all the bookstores gone? Long time missing them. Where have all the bookstores gone, from long time ago? Where have all the bookstores gone? Out of business everyone. When will they ever return, when will they ever return?

Can you tell I am more than a little nostalgic?

Now pardon me while I go grab a worn copy of Jane Eyre (I love that book!) and curl up in a corner to read. I might even need a box of tissues.


Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

There used to be a bookstore chain here whose motto was, "Books cost too much." I think that is a huge part of the failure of such stores.

I bought hundreds of books for Mac, many are in my classroom or in the basement (being saved for "The children I'm never going to have," as he says).

But for me, it's rare I buy a book. I am a library user. It's green and "free," if you don't count property taxes. I have a few books I like to keep on hand, but other than that...

Now, my son is getting his graduate degree in library science. Right now he's leaning toward museum work, but before when he wanted to be a straight up liberrien (as we love to say), when he had just made this life plan, his former kindergarten teacher said, "Really? Where do you see libraries in, say, 30 years?"

Eek, he had just committed to something good, real and important, and this guy has to ask him to think deeply?


I believe, like always, libraries will change with the times. But bookstores, I do miss them for kiddo gift books.

tiziana said...

Il negozio preferito da me e la Chiara è senz'altro la libreria e appena possiamo, lasciamo Luciano nel reparto "tutto per un euro" e andiamo a guardarci i libri.
Chiara ha regalato spesso alcuni suoi giochi, ma non ha MAI voluto regalare a nessuno un suo libro.
Secondo me i libri sono insostituibili.
Ciao a tutti.

GrandmaK said...

Would love to visit your "Little Shop Around the Corner!" Cathy

Lisa said...

There are few things that I love better than lazing through a bookstore (esp when they have a coffee shop that I can order from, as well). I love the smell of it, I love the excitement of so many stories waiting to dive into, I love rubbing shoulders with other book-lovers. And I mourn the closure of Borders and all the other little corner bookstores -- One on the corner of our busiest (if you can call it that) intersection in our little town closed a couple years ago after forty years in business, owned by a single family. So, so sad.

But, I have to come clean and admit, that I very often take note of books I see at the bookstore which I know I can find cheaper online... I usually leave the store with something under my arm, but the bulk of my purchases I make on the internet. It's just too expensive not to. We like to read, but we gotta eat, too. :( But, still, I have guilt.