I woke up yesterday morning to the news that Borders had finally done what everyone in the publishing industry knew was inevitable. The company filed for bankruptcy. They are also planning to cut 200 of their stores nationwide.
Go ahead, call me a weenie, or maybe just pre-menopausal, but I couldn't help but feel my eyes water up. And it' s not just because that as a writer, I'm petrified of what's happening in publishing right now.
One of my most favorite things to do in the whole world is visit bookstores. I rank buying books above shopping for clothes, purses, perfume and yes, even shoes (hopefully this admission will not get me kicked out of the Stiletto gang!) But with bookstores closing right and left, the days of walking into a bookstore, buying a cup of designer coffee and gleefully perusing the aisles may soon be gone. Amazon and the ballooning ebook industry is doing to bookstores what WalMart (and please believe me, I have nothing personal against WalMart) did to mid level grocery stores and small mom and pop shops against the country. It's putting them out of business. This a conundrum I have no idea how to solve.
I love my e-reader (yes, it's a Kindle) and I spend more money at Amazon than my husband would like me to. I also spend a lot of money in brick and mortar bookstores. But like a lot of writers and people who read heavily, I'm probably in the minority on this. I really can't blame someone for opting to buy a book online for 9.99 with free shipping and handling from the comfort of their home vs. getting in their car and using their precious gasoline to purchase the same book for a couple of dollars more at a store (which may or may not even stock the book).
Last October, I attended the Novelists, Inc. one day conference on the future of publishing in St. Petersburg. There were some really big names on the panel and the discussions were eye-opening to say the least. The bottom line was that publishing is in a huge state of change right now. Publishing houses are scrambling to keep up with the e-pub phenomena. E-publishing is to us what the advent of the printing press was in it's time. We know we're in for some big changes, but everyone is unclear how those changes are going to effect everyone else.
As one little person against the tide of change, my hope is that, whatever happens, people keep buying books in whatever form they come in. But I hope there will still be places (real, physical locations) that people can go to and talk to one another in person about books and peruse aisles to see fabulous covers and touch a page with their own hands. I can't save the world but I can recycle and pick up my own trash. I probably can't save all the bookstores, but I can continue to patronize my local store and buy books in person.
On a happier note, this is my first post as a bona fide member of the Stiletto Gang and I would like to thank the rest of the gang members, Susan, Evelyn, Maggie, Rachel and Marilyn for inviting me to be a part of this fabulous group. I promise, my next post won't be so serious.