First it was the small ma and pa bookstores that were shut down and forced out of business. In their place came the Costco-esq megastores of Barnes and Noble and Borders. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I don’t know. One minute I was buying my books and my music at a little place called Rainbow Books and Music on my local Main Street, the next I was in the ‘self-help’ aisle trying to find my way to ‘bestselling fiction.’ Then music wasn’t something I listened to and bought at a store anymore. It was something I paid $.99 for (make that $1.29 today) on the online Apple store. I downloaded it onto my computer, schlooped it onto my ipod, and botta-bing botta-boom, I had music. Then my local library announced it was cutting back its hours. Then it was closing on Mondays. Then it was reducing its hours and closing on Mondays. About this time I went from renting my movies at the store to getting them at a RedBox or via Netflix mail. No more Blockbuster, no more Hollywood Video, and definitely no more neighborhood video store. In fact, renting movies is now almost passe. Why rent went you can stream, download, or purchase on cable?
And that brings us to the news that the Borders on my corner is closing its doors. Amazon, the Kindle, and other forms of digital media now makes buying a book practically superfluous. The nice librarian I see Tuesday through Friday tells me that the libraries are next. I couldn’t believe it when I heard a few months ago that I might not get mail anymore on Saturdays (see No More Mail On Saturdays), but closing the libraries? Is this really what it’s come down to?
When I was little my grandfather used to talk about the “good old days.” They sounded terrible to me – no color televisions, no walkmans, no VCR players. Now I’m afraid to sneeze. No libraries? No mail? No bookstores? Will I be explaining what they are to my children? “Well, kids, when I was your age, I used to go and get these wonderful things called books that people shared and learned from and escaped in and treasured. They even smelled special…”