The End Of Civilization As We Know It January 30, 2013Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Economics, Entertainment.
Tags: barnes and noble, bookstores, borders, closing, e=reader, nook
Mrs. Left and I bought matching Nooks last spring. We fought it for years. We love books and our house is full of them. When the bookshelves were two-deep full and the books began to stack up on the available horizontal surfaces, we’d box up four or five hundred of the old musty ones and donate them to the library so we’d have room for more. Since I was in grade school and I’d go to the Sigmund Sanger public library branch in Toledo to get another stack of science fiction novels by Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, and then win the monthly book report competition, I’ve loved the look and the feel and the smell of books.
When we first arrived in Bloomington back in 1989, there was a large comfortable local bookstore in the strip mall near our house. There was a B. Dalton in the mall and half a dozen specialty book stores downtown near the IU campus. It didn’t take long for the store in the strip center to be replaced by a huge Borders. That Borders was just a few stores away from the Arthur Murray studio we frequented, and it was a regular after-lesson and after-dance activity to stroll down to the Borders and share a cookie and a capuccino with friends, and it was a great place to sit down and skim magazines while waiting for a lesson. We bought a lot of books in that Borders and the local store that had preceded it. Then Borders went out of business.
Now, aside from a few textbook emporiums on campus, Barnes and Noble is the last remaining bookstore in Bloomington. But it’s probably writing its own epitaph: When you walk in the front door, the first thing you see is the Nook display. There are half a dozen models ranging from the most basic black and white E-reader all the way up to the HD Tablet that competes with the I-Pad. I didn’t want to love my Nook, but I do. I still browse the shelves of Barnes and Noble, skimming the dust covers and reading the summaries…but then I note the books I want by making a note on my I-Phone. Later, all I have to do is use the “search” function on my Nook to find the books I’ve put on my personal wish-list, and one tap and thirty seconds later it appears in bright HD color on my tablet. The Nook keeps my place marked in the book, lets me look up any terms I don’t understand, and will even take me back to earlier chapters when I highlight some character whose origin I’ve forgotten, and explain who he or she is. And I never have to reach for the lamp anymore, since my book is its own light.
I have no one to blame but myself.