I just read this story on CNN.com. Looks like today is the day the first-ever Borders bookstore closes down for good.
Talk about depressing. I hate bookstore going out of business sales. A few years ago, a Barnes & Noble near me closed down after being there ever since I lived in the area. I ransacked it for Christmas presents, for random gift ideas, for books I *might* someday read. I felt like someone trying to save irreplaceable treasures aboard a sinking ship or from a burning house before they were gone forever. Silly of course, since everything you'd find there would be in stock online or in another big bookstore.
I had a similar experience a few years before that. A famous Boston used book store, Victor Hugo's, closed its doors on Newbury Street. I found a treasure trove of old pulpy novels, and I regret not buying some of the books I saw there but passed up. Again, I felt like I was trying to salvage lost treasures before they disappeared forever. Now I realize that any of those books I bought or didn't buy I can find for a song on Amazon's used book offerings.
E-books and Amazon's vast network of sellers and affiliates give a degree of availability to content like never before. But there is something just plain wonderful about walking through a store filled with books, and people who love books. Conversations, friendships, even love can be found there. And nothing beats wandering the shelves of a well-stocked bookstore when you don't know what you want to read, and then coming across a new title that starts a lasting relationship with you, or you find a new work from an author you hadn't read in ages. I can, and have, spent hours at a time in bookstores. None of it is time I would ever consider wasted.
So while this is the painful part of progress, and eBooks and indie e-publishing is the wave of the future (and one I am taking advantage of, natch), it still makes me sad to see any bookstore close its doors, no matter how "big box" or commercial it might be. Hopefully this environmental disaster, like the death of the dinosaurs, will bring about a flurry of bookstore evolution, as the indie brick & mortar stores reinvent themselves and continue to pull in new customers.