I'm sure you don't live under a rock, therefore you might have heard something about Borders and bankruptcy and a third of their stores closing. The two Borders stores that really mean anything to me personally, meaning the one I used to work at in my pre-blogging days and the one that is closest to my town (at a staggering 45 minutes away) survived the closings, and I'm pleased about that, but the whole situation plus that whole "45 minutes away" thing got me to reflecting on and generally being melancholy about the bookstore situation in my town.
I don't live very near a major city, but I also don't live in the backwoods middle of nowhere, either. Okay, relative to the surrounding area, I might, but in the grand scheme of things not so much. I don't live in the center of a barren, frozen tundra nor do I live out on the prairie or in the mountains or somewhere where you can drive for miles and miles without even seeing another town, let alone a bookstore. I live in central/northeastern Pennsylvania sandwiched almost equidistantly between Philadelphia and New York City. My town is host to a medium-sized state university, and they have their bookstore, but the bookstore scenario for the town at large is dismal.
It's practically a weekly thing for me to bemoan the fact that my immediate surroundings seem to be a bookstore deadzone. It wasn't always like this here, and it saddens me to think that with the upcoming Borders closings, others might join my ranks of the nearly bookstore-less. Now, lest you feel too badly for me, we are are not totally book deprived here. We have several local library branches that serve our small towns well, and their high quality used book sales keep me in far more cost-effective reading than I can probably hope to devour in the decades that might well remain of my life span. Alas, I am of the segment of the population that is not really wildly in love with the whole library thing but for the sales. I like owning books.
I miss bookstores. I miss them so much. I envy all you book bloggers who even have the opportunity to somehow affiliate yourselves with a local bookstore for mutual benefit, who can wile away portions of your days sipping coffee and perusing novels in bookstore cafes, who can attend author readings and signings without driving the better part of an hour (or more!). I actively resent that sometimes I feel like my only option when I need to buy a book is to throw a few more dollars into Amazon's already fairly bursting coffers. I took it for granted when I had it, but now I long for the pleasure of wandering the aisles of a bookstore perusing books that I can hold in my hands. Getting books in the mail might be a total high but it can't replace the potential for actually interacting face to face with people who are looking for or can recommend a good book. It can't replace being able to go to a store where if you say something as vague as, "I'm thinking of a book with a white cover that I read about in the Saturday Review of Books a week and a half ago," and somebody will actually be able to find you that book. I'm already tired of the cold, utilitarian book buying options that the internet has to offer now that my alternatives are so limited.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't be like us, the book lovers in my town. Don't let the continued existence of your local bookstore be a forgone conclusion. Don't always buy your books on the internet when you can just as easily buy them from a store, because if you like bookstores at all, like I do, you'll miss them terribly when they're gone even though you were happily sending off your dollars to Amazon up until the moment the reality of it all caught up with you. I understand now more than ever that bookstores are a treasure, and one that I am loathe to go without.
How about you? What's the bookstore situation in your town? Do you have them? Would you miss them if you didn't or are you satisfied buying your books from online outlets?