Before I get into the meat of my post, you’ll remember that aspiring author Dale Mayer wrote a guest post for Writer Unboxed in mid-December, describing her rush to create an online presence because she’d recently become a finalist in Brava’s Writing with the Stars contest. We’re pleased to tell you that she’s moved on to another round, and is now in the top 4. Congratulations, Dale! If you’d like to check out the contest and vote, please visit the Brava’s Writing with the Stars contest page.
We’ve lamented many times on WU the disappearance of the independent bookstore (as contributor Brunonia Barry has chronicled). Corporate bookstores are also feeling the pinch, and as is happening in many communities across the US, I’ll lose my local Borders in 2011. Which sucks because my local indie bookstore is long gone, so Borders has taken the place of my neighborhood bookly nook.
As you can imagine, my family traffics in a healthy amount of books. We spent a lot of time in that Borders, an oasis of civility in mass market consumerism that is the American mall. My daughter attended storytimes; I’ve met fellow authors in their café, browsed for hours and bought more than I should have. Borders cards were our gift of choice. Once that Borders goes, the only bookstores left are a university bookstore that caters to students and faculty – like my kid wants to thumb through literary mags and textbooks – and a Barnes & Noble all the way across town. Our family won’t have a space to hang out and browse, buy unwisely, fritter away the afternoon. I’ve lost a place to hold a booksigning.
The digital age continues to rack up casualties (and yes, I’m well aware that authors might benefit the most from this shift ). The irony is that book sales are on the rise (finally!) in the U.S. Just not enough to help Borders. The clerk who has been there since the store opened and watched my daughter go from picture books to Sarah Dessen novels will be out of a job, as will the barrista who knows how to make my mocha latte without too much syrup. Where will the blind dates, and the low-stakes coffee getting-to-know-you dates take place? Applebees? It just doesn’t sound the same.
I guess I always had the knowing of it in the back of my mind that this day would come soon, but soon is now and I can’t help but lament the disappearance of public spaces for books outside of libraries.
But I got used to Tower Records closing, so I guess I’ll get used to this.
Have you lost your neighborhood bookstore? How has it impacted you? Were you as bummed as I am?