For Want of a Good Book – bypassing the mints, magnets and mugs
Yes, we’ve all heard how the digital era is killing off the paper medium. Naysayers will point to the skeletal remains of a once thriving bookstore as proof positive that print has seen its day. But when’s it time for us to turn the page and move on?
And by move on, I’m really referring to the urban legends circulating on the demise of outlets like Borders. Did Borders really unravel after the introduction of e-books? Timing wise, sure, but could it possibly have had anything to do with the CDs, the DVDs, the Lego alarm clocks, the Hello Kitty stationary, the (essentially free) magazine reading section or the double-shot-easy-foam-extra-hot-soy-lattes? No wonder they weren’t selling books.
It’s been two long years since Borders closed, but lesson learned seemed to have been forgotten as I’ve begun to notice some similar trends in my local bookstores. Ok, to be fair, not my local-local ones (they’d never do that), but rather the Dymocks in town. Today, I noticed they’re not serving coffee just yet, but the novelty items and branded t-shirts seem mighty prevalent. Fortunately, so do the customer so I can’t begrudge them that.
But then I saw it. Something so terrible I fear the sight has scarred my soul. As if in a trance, I moved closer trying to convince myself that what I’m seeing isn’t really there (actually, I didn’t have my glasses on so I really did have to move closer). But it is. It’s there. Paranormal Romance. What the…! You’ve got to be kidding me! There’s a whole section devoted to vamps and tramps? Did we not learn that the “please all the people all the time” approach to business didn’t work out quite so well?
After the bile returned to its proper place, I looked around for a camera. For certain they’d have one trained on this area to a) catch the Twilight tweens looking to sneak out with their prince of darkness but more likely, b) they just want to watch the (shocked) reactions of those people old enough to remember the smell of mimeographed paper.
Fear not paper people, as long as there are those of us who’ve ripped the edges off a dot matrix print out, there’ll be a market for paper books. I’m not saying I’ll boycott e-books. Frankly, I really like reading off my iPad and I believe that the more mediums there are for reading, the better. But hear me now Mr Bookstore Man, unless you cease with these ridiculous “something for everyone” sections, I’m outta here….right after I pay for this adorable Little Miss Sunshine coffee mug.