The first time I ever walked into a big box mega bookstore, I was in love. Look. At. All. Those. Books!
Of course, those big box stores soon came to represent the face of Corporate Evil. As we learned in You've Got Mail, big megastores crushed beloved little independent neighborhood bookstores beneath their cloven boots. (An ironic message coming from a movie that was a 2-hour advertisement for AOL.)
You think I'm evil. But someday,
a great beast shall arise from out of Seattle,
having seven heads and ten horns,
and his name shall be Jeff Bezos.
Yeah, those shitty little neighborhood bookstores that always had a fucking cat around underfoot and the smell of mold in the shelves? Screw them. Gimme a nice, well-lighted store with a cafe and a decent chance of finding a book I am looking for any day. That is not to say that nice independent stores do not exist. In university towns, it can be fun to go book browsing in specialty bookstores. Ditto major cities -- New York and the Bay Area are full of bookstores that aren't just chains or cat-infested hole-in-the-wall places.
However, finding a good bookstore is getting harder and harder. Borders Books was not the first big chain to fail, just the latest.
In my area, the only places left are Barnes & Noble (which is okay, but the nearest one is about 20 miles away and small), Books A Million (which was always a sort of poor man's Borders), and a few lingering hole-in-the-wall used bookstores with fucking cats.
All right, I admit it, nowadays, when I actually buy a physical book (which is rare: ebooks for the win!) I usually order it from Amazon.
Look, that's forty miles I am not driving - think green!
No, really, as much as I dislike Amazon for some of their business tactics, if I didn't order from Amazon I'd still order online. And I'm still going to prefer ebooks to print books for a bunch of reasons.
But I admit, when I am near a Barnes & Noble or some other decent bookstore with a nice cafe, there is nothing like sitting down amidst a bunch of books and taking in the... bookish ambiance.
There is much angst in the bookselling world over Amazon and ebooks. Ebooks, it is inevitable, will become a medium that largely replaces print books. But physical books will never go away, and I predict that in 50 years, bookstores will still be around. But they will probably be tiny and specialized, catering to collectors and other special needs, and most physical books will be produced by sophisticated print-on-demand devices right there in the store. If Barnes & Noble still exists as a company, it won't be one with millions of square feet of retail space in shopping malls across the country.
Do you view the coming demise of (most) bookstores with dread? Do you have a local bookstore you really love? Do you know of any independent stores that have managed to thrive in a world dominated by big box chains, Amazon, and ebooks?
How often do you visit a physical bookstore?
Do you think bookstores will become extinct?
What do you think of Amazon.com?
Previous Saturday Book Discussions.