As I was driving along 82nd St, I saw a guy by the side of the road waving a sign, "Borders Closing Sale!" (Is that like the worst job ever? Especially now when it's supposed to be spring but is still cold.) So I yanked the car into the right lane and, squealing on two wheels, jerked into the parking lot. Books. Sale. I couldn't help it.
Ten minutes later, I walked out bookless. The line at the register was too long (I was on my way somewhere) as usual, and the discount wasn't that extreme (I want $3 hardcovers, see). And you know, I can just order anything from Amazon. I realized even as I formulated that thought that I, yes, I was responsible for Borders's financial problems. Yes, I, the one who used to spend pleasurable afternoons in bookstores, sampling this book and that, walking out with $100 worth of books I never meant to buy... and now, you know, go online to order books.
So blame it on me. But I was thinking of how long we've been moaning about this. I remember back in the day, when most bookstores were small and independent, and I was poor and got most of my books from the library. I remember used bookstores... I discovered Patricia Veryan's historicals at some point, and there was one 6-book series out of print, and I painstakingly assembled the series one by one by visiting used bookstores all around the state. (I had a travelling job then-- one of my weirder ones, teaching speed-reading to laid-off autoworkers in the old, cavernous, nearly derelict auto plants-- and would always stop in at the used bookstore to check their "V" section. Now I would, you know, just check eBay.) And that was the big controversy, whether used bookstores were evil because they deprived authors, publishers, and new-book bookstores of revenue. What a quaint form of evil, compared to identity theft and copy theft and all that stuff. And then came the big bookstores, the BNs and Borders, and remember how everyone thought they would destroy the independent bookstore? (Well, they did hasten its demise, certainly.)
Anyway. What do you all think? What are you hearing about this bankruptcy, what do you think it means? What does it mean to the writer and reader (that is, US)? And fess up. What have you done to create this situation? (Come on. I'm willing to admit that "one-click buying" has corrupted me utterly.)
I am more and more coming to wonder if publishers and bookstores are making themselves expendable, or at least not making themselves essential.