The Bookless World

I adore books.

The recent news of Borders (via The Wrap) involving the talk of liquidation and closures beginning as soon as Friday, July, 22 it got me to think of a wall of books. A room full of books. Book displays, book tables. Large and small, books as far as the eye can see.   Soon this image won’t be around at the Borders in my local mall in Bonita.  When the closures started in February, I happened in to the one in El Cajon.

There was never a sadder place.

Price tags were pressed against every conceivable thing that could be sold.  As the room was being stripped of stock (and the shelves they sat on), I looked at the diminishing number of the titles. I felt almost bad for buying my discounted graphic novels because I realized that it would be the last purchase.   The room by the end of the week would have no more ink infused paper goods. No more staff to talk of their knowledge. Maybe the emotional kick to the gut seems a little too much, but follow me.

Just a rental sign.

Business closure is an inevitable sign of the times. Yet as windows shutter, as doors lock, I can’t help but feel that the amount of printed paper between covers is shuttering up too. One less place where these items will be sold. One less place to sit in a corner, cuddled up, as your decision is based on the first chapter alone.   One less plays for the adored and the contemptable to reside as neighbors, side by side, opinion against opinion. Paper filled places are what inspired then turn to tech e-reading phenomenon.  Those paper filled places are now an endangered species.

Big chain stores. Mom and Pop’s. Our local libraries due to budget cuts.  All of it is eroding as the money concerns or bad business models rise up, a beast from book hell, to take no prisoners.

The advent of electronic publishing means that reading has taken on a new format with the popularity of e-readers such as Kindle and Nook or e-reading apps which nearly every major purveyor specializing in the industry has.  What is wrong with a pocketful of books accessed in a single touch?  Imagine the ability to walk around with a literal library in your hands.  Don’t imagine too hard, because this is now a reality.  I, like so many others, from the stroke of my Android phone am able to access both a Kindle and Kobo app. Of late it’s my Kobo app that has had a little more loving.  Epubs launch easy, so have allowed me to import books from publishers for review, books from authors I’m interested in, and the little free tidbits become associated with story universes in which I want to entangle.

Yet sitting in bed with an e-reading app is not the same as sitting in bed with a real book. You remember those, right?  Thick volumes of words made with ink. The smell of crisp pages filling your nose.  Getting home with a new book is about the same excitement level for some of us as test driving a new car.Your fingers take the wheel as you pace through the story at your own rate. Fast? Slow? No nevermind, it’s your pleasure ride!  When you’re done you pull over to the side, slip in a bookmark, and wait until the next time you can get in to your imagination van.  If you have a question about the next installation in a series, you could always go out and find your book vendor or librarian to ask. There was nothing like those engaging conversations filled with perky quips and a no-nonsense appraisal.

You can’t have those face to face moments with Amazon.

You can’t market the feeling of seeing the book tables up close, or holding the books in your hand,let alone the excitement of a new release display.  Hell, and for classics?   Let me know when you can bottle  the feeling of holding an antique copy of one from an old shelf.  It could be that not everyone feels the way I do. I am a woman who’d pass out on seeing illustrated woodblocks or letters from any antique press.  Ink excites me. I still write ideas in moleskin notebooks.

Don’t take this for a piece against the march of time.  Take it for a piece that says as we move forward, don’t forget to take the treasures with you.  We still need places like  Borders, Mom and Pop’s, and libraries.  We need them bad.

Remember the imagery of a room devoid of substance where something worthwhile used to stand. Think of the people who you may have encountered who helped you find your selections and gave you a few minutes of conversation to make a golden hour.

I love books, and I’m afraid the golden hour’s midnight is at hand.

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