A Sad Day for Borders
Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 19, 2011
Today is a sad day for Borders and for everyone in the publishing industry. It’s the first day of their going out of business sale after declaring bankruptcy. I went to the store and saw a long checkout line snaking all the way from the front to the back, people’s arms filled with books. Where had they been during normal business hours? If all these people had come into the store then, maybe Borders wouldn’t be having financial woes today.
Magazines were forty percent off so I started there. Then I roamed the aisles, picking out a few things I might not have bought otherwise. People loaded all kinds of things into their baskets: children’s books, puzzles, gifts, hardcover novels, novelty notebooks, and more. I can understand how adults may become more comfortable reading an e-book on their Kindle, but kids will never lose the pleasure of thumbing through a pop-up book or a picture book. Do we expect to keep our children entertained via the television, computer, or handheld device? Children need to have books at home if they are to develop a love for learning and reading.
Where do we expect to browse magazines if not at the big chain bookstores? Will we have to subscribe online? I like leafing through magazines, cutting out pictures and recipes. How will I satisfy this need if I can’t browse the magazine racks and pick out issues that appeal to me?
For authors, we lose the experience of readers browsing the new release table and spotting our catchy book cover. How can we attract their attention online? Reader review sites? Genre niche sites? If we are not already a known name, do we have a chance at all?
Our choices to buy a physical print book in person will now be narrowed to Barnes & Noble, for however long they last, and to the local independent bookstores. Supermarkets and discount chains are viable alternatives but their selection is often limited to bestsellers. Will we be forced to hunt for more reads online, increasing our time spent in front of the computer? Book reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations will be just as important as ever. But things are changing, and how those are delivered is changing too. We’ll have to look online for recommendations. Or maybe we’ll let sites like Amazon recommend titles for us based on our previous purchases like they do now.
As I stood in the checkout line, I heard two opposing points of view. The man from behind said that e-books are going to take over because e-books are cheaper and it’s easier for people to download them. His female companion shook her head. “ I like to hold a book, and I like to smell it. I’ll never stop wanting to have a book in my hands.”