On the Closing of Bookstores

I was there when the Borders fell.

The bookstore chain went belly-up. It was a sad thing; I had enjoyed their stores.

Every day I drove past the store on the way to work. It was closing soon. I had visited many times, and I eyed certain books. If this was here when it got to be 50% off, I’d buy this one. If that one was still there when it got down to 75% off, I’d snap it up.

And then the day came. The last day. The glorious final dawn.

I arrived at Borders. There was no longer a percentage-off.

Today, every book was four for one dollar.

I walked out with sixty novels. Allthenovels. Allthebooks. Aw, yes. Such a haul!

I went back the next day. Six for a dollar?! I bought a copy of literally every book they still had that wasn’t romance or western. Came away with… another twenty, if I remember right.

Many of those books still sit on my shelves. I look at them and think of Borders.

I’m not sad I got a bunch of books really cheap.

I’m sad the bookstore closed.

At the time this post goes live, one of my favorite bookstores ever is in the process of closing. Our family will be there today, grabbing pretty much anything that looks good. We’re going to end up with a lot of books that we’ll enjoy.

But…

…but at what price?

I’m not talking about whatever bill we pay on our way out the doors.

What happens when another bookstore closes? What happens when all that’s left is Amazon?

Amazon has been a godsend for so many authors. We can get stuff out there relatively cheaply. If you’re into a niche market, you can find your books so much more easily. If you’re searching for older stuff, someone’s probably selling it on Amazon. I do not regret these things.

But there’s something special about browsing in a bookstore that as of yet the online experience cannot replicate. To walk down aisles of books, breathe in the scent, and pick up a random one and page through it… there’s something special about that.

I’m going to miss driving to this bookstore. It was always an event for our family, in part because it was an hour and a half away. We’d give the kids an allowance and let them loose. They always found surprises.

I always found surprises.

At Murphy’s in particular I’d always find some independent books I never would have come across on Amazon. I found older books. I found curiosities and classics, missing pieces to my collection and new shining stars.

But never again after today.

We’re going to come home with a lot of books. I’ll be happy with our haul, I’m sure.

But I’d rather have my bookstore staying open. I’d rather have fewer books and more bookstores. More places for people to congregate and enjoy the printed word together. More locations to gather with bibliophiles and rejoice.

Because while Amazon is good…

…well, I find my bookstores better.

 

Published by Jon

I'm a pastor in Wisconsin. Constantly writing, whether it be fiction or sermons or anything in between. Husband and father. Over all this, Christian, willing and joyful servant to good master Jesus.

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