The Loss of Book Culture

I was showering this morning when I started thinking about a coupon I’d just gotten from Barnes and Noble in my email for 15%  off a purchase, and how I probably wouldn’t get to one of their stores regardless. I used to live in Borders. I loved Borders. Their stores made sense to me, and I would make sure I went at least one a week just to browse. That doesn’t happen any more. Part of it is the lack of proximity. I now have to drive at least a half hour on the expressway to get to either a Barnes and Noble or a Books-a-Million, the latter of which is really more of a reincarnation of Media Play than a bookstore. Now, a half hour isn’t a ton of time. It’s not so far out of my way that it would preclude me from doing something I really wanted to do.

Which is part of the problem now. Going to a book store isn’t something I really want to do. And it hasn’t been since Borders shut their doors. This isn’t a knock on the remaining book stores. All of them have their positives, and can be very nice places. I just have no interest in going.

So I wonder how many more out there are like me. Former book people, maybe even current book people (the library now stands in for my book browsing fix), who just do not feel the same pull to go into a bookstore and just browse. With the collapse of Borders, among others, how many of us were turned into the cold and ended up finding other fires to warm ourselves by? I miss Borders. A lot.  The world of books hasn’t been the same since, no, not even with little indie bookstores that all us feel bad for not supporting better.

And then there is the elephant in the room, Amazon, which has been in the news lately for trying to badger Hachette into a poor deal for the publisher. If we’re going to think about book culture, going to the stores, wandering around, flipping through pages, Amazon is the antithesis of this. Yeah, you can sometimes browse a few digital pages, but you don’t have the other people wandering the aisles, you don’t have the clerks willing to offer advice and suggestions, you don’t have the communal coffee shop-ish area, you don’t have any real interaction. You have point. You have click.  You have no community that exists in any real tangible sense.

Maybe society is changing away from the sort of experience I have noticed myself dropping away from. This could be just a single story in a larger movement.  I miss my Borders, though.

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