Rumor has it that Barnes and Noble is on its last leg. Some are wondering if their stores will be around to see the new year ring in.
It’s ironic that the big chains have driven many small independent bookstores out of business and now, Amazon is driving the last chain over the edge.
Like everyone else, the allure of cheap books makes me an Amazon customer, even if I do try to support indies when I am in one.
Here’s the distressing part of the demise of the bookstore: no more browsing.
Amazon’s “look inside” feature is a pale substitute for looking at a cover, then the tactile nature of paging through a book. Feeling the weight of the paper. The smell of the ink. The care we take not to crack the binding.
In a real bookstore, the whole world of literature lies before us. We can actually walk through it, stopping at philosophy if we wish, or sports or even cookbooks. Yes, it’s true that those same works are available online. But in a brick and mortar bookstore, we are in the presence of the greats, not just looking at dots on a screen.
I like to think that I’m fairly modern. I do, after all, use a Kindle. But I like the feel of a book in my hands and I like how easy it is to page through and find things at a glance. Students who tell me they prefer an e-textbook? I can’t even fathom how they can study, highlight and find things.
Am I old and stuffy? Not contemporary? I don’t feel that way, but maybe I am.