Earlier this week, the bookstore chain, Borders, announced that they were going to close all of their physical store locations. I don’t know whether this means there will continue to be a Borders online, or not.
I feel responsible.
I’m one of the millions of readers who now buys most of his books in eBook format. Hell, I’m worse than most of those people, because I write the eBooks! (Well, not all of them.) And that appears to be why these stores keep going under.
The thing is, I really don’t need to purchase light, entertaining reading in paper book form. My vision is going, so I have to remember to bring my reading glasses, if I pick up a book at lunch time, and my book bag has limited space. It’s far easier for me to have a bunch of books available on my eReader or my iPad. These are smaller and more convenient to carry, plus I can magnify the print, if I forget my glasses.
But as a writer, I also find it essential to do research. And you can’t read big thick tomes about Vikings or Marcilio Ficino’s influence on the Renaissance on an eReader. The iPod is a little more conducive to flipping back and forth between pages, but only slightly. You really need to have resource material in your hands, in order to use it properly. I bought a book on homosexuality in feudal Japan as an eBook, then ended up having to buy it again in printed format, for this reason.
There is also a lot to be said for the bookstore cafe. Granted, the ones I’ve been to could benefit from more comfortable seating and larger tables. Apparently, Starbucks took a look at the way McDonalds treated their customers, saw that McDonalds is tanking, in terms of business, and decided that was the model to emulate.
But it’s better than nothing, and I inevitably do buy at least a couple books, every time I sit in the cafe looking through a stack of them, while I drink my trenta enorme Cinnamon dolce latte. With a little pink umbrella.