Amazon, eBooks, and the demise of Borders and bookshop culture

18 Jul

BooksThe era of the big box bookstore is coming to an end and I, for one, am saddened by this.  Yes, I know they were big, bad corporate giants that came in and destroyed neighborhood bookstores and coffee shops, ending third places and stifling locally-owned businesses in many communities.  All that’s true – and awful.

But at this point, the closing of your local Borders isn’t likely to mean that a locally-owned bookstore is going to spring up in its place.  (Although I wish that would happen!)  It’s really just going to drive more business to Amazon (or iTunes).  Yes, I know they’re both big, bad corporations, so why should I care if people buy from Borders or Amazon?

Because I like bookstores – large and small.  I like browsing.  I like wandering the aisles and touching the books.  Picking them up and feeling their weight.  I like to pick an edition based on the way the pages feel in my hand.  For me, buying a book is a tactile experience.  

Rupert Giles - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

“Smell is the most powerful trigger to the memory there is. A certain flower or a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences long forgotten. Books smell… musty and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer is… it has no texture, no context. It’s there and then it’s gone. If it’s to last, then the getting of knowledge should be tangible. It should be, um… smelly.”

I like to browse books by subject – to get lost in the non-fiction section discovering biographies on obscure yet fascinating subjects.  I like to be able to compare a book to its fellows.  Rarely do I go into a bookstore with a specific purchase in mind.  Through looking (and touching) I find the book that’s right for me at the moment – a book that fits my mood, my budget, my plans for the rest of the day.

I can’t do those things on Amazon.  I can’t wander.  I can’t touch.  I can’t get serendipitously inspired to read something new.  Sure, I can browse the titles, authors, and covers of best sellers or new books in certain categories, but all I can see of them is the first few pages.  I can read reviews, but I can’t ask the person standing next to me if she’s read it and what she thought about it.  I can’t have those great, yet totally random, conversations that arise in bookstores.  About if Gene really jounced the limb.  And how it would have been a more fitting ending if Harry had died.  And if he finds a family at the end of The Giver.  And what Disk World really looks like.  And how vampires don’t really sparkle.

(My thoughts: yes, yes, yes, it involves a turtle, and “Of course they don’t!”)

The demise of Borders and (even further) rise of Amazon means that I’ll be able to have these conversations even less often.  I won’t get to spend lazy weekends wandering through bookstores while drinking coffee and absorbing the books around me.  For a while now, I’ve known that my time to do that was coming to an end, and I’ve been dreading the end of this era.

eBooks are coming.  Really, they’re already here.  Click a button, enter your password, and the book is yours.  But, it’s not really a book.  It’s text.  And the text is yours – to read, but nothing more.  There’s no room for marginalia.  No space to write, in your best third grade handwriting, “This book belongs to the library of Maggie O’Toole.”

There’s no bookseller to talk to during checkout, no one to say, “By the way, if you like this, you’ll love this other one.  I just read it last week and it’s great.”  There’s not even a way to see what the people next to you on the train are reading.  Books are becoming sterile and solitary.  We can’t loan them, we can’t share them.  And we’ll discuss them less and less.  And it’s sad.

Questions of the day:  What do you think?  About if Gene really jounced the limb.  And how it would have been a more fitting ending if Harry had died.  And if he finds a family at the end of The Giver.  And what Disk World really looks like.  And how vampires don’t really sparkle.

MaggieCakes is a blog about social media, marketing, culture, and what’s new on the internet written by me, Maggie O’Toole.  Every day (okay, I try for every day) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes. Find anything interesting in the worlds of culture or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at

308 Responses to “Amazon, eBooks, and the demise of Borders and bookshop culture”

  1. Kathleen July 18, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    At this very moment, my daughter is having a slumber party for her 9th birthday. (They saw Harry Potter for the second time.) We have a small stack of actual books to present her on her birthday tomorrow. But today, by chance, the free Kindle came in the mail. (It was a promotion from a stay through We fired it up and her friend–whose parents bought her a Kindle to save space during their trip to visit family in South Africa–showed her how to use it. She ordered a $7.99 text of Book #1 of the Septimus Heap series. Right now, my daughter is navigating the family’s new Kindle, one girl is reading the other girl’s Kindle, and the Kindle owner is reading a book.

    I just spent the weekend gathering the myriad books from her room and–literally–dusting them off and helping her cull through her shelves. She has everything from silly Scholastic books such as the Goddess Girls to a hundred-year-old edition of Idylls of the King. She organizes her books on her bookshelves by topic–the ancient world, maritime, animals, American Girl, etc. We sent Robin Hood, Harold and the Purple Crayon and other mainstays to the hallway bookshelves, making space for whatever books she acquires as a 9 year old.

    So the kids these days, they seem to dabble in everything, in every format.

    –Kathleen S.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

      9th birthday — that’s 3rd grade, right? For my 3rd grade sleepover party, we watched Arachnophobia. I’m sure your daughter is a much more cultured child than I was, but I guess that’s what comes from having a professor for a mother.

      Her bookshelves sound very much like mine when I was a kid. When I finally moved out and got my first after-college apartment, my parents were like, “That’s it, you have to take them with you or give them away — we are not keeping a whole room in our house as a shrine to you and your books.” I took most of them. But I brought some to my 3rd grade neighbor and she couldn’t have been happier. Who knew that Baby-sitters Club and Goosebumps would be cool again.

  2. georgettesullins July 19, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    And libraries? What does this portend for libraries?

    • georgettesullins July 19, 2011 at 10:19 am #

      Oh I’m so excited for you! Congratulations for this FP. Well-deserved!

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

      I thought about that right after I posted. I go my local library at least once a week. I love that I can walk to — and it’s really one of those places where everyone knows your name. But the selection’s very limited. Like Amazon, most libraries can order anything in, but it takes time. I think I may have issues with my need for instant gratification.

    • manneredgold July 20, 2011 at 8:18 am #

      My first reaction, exactly. The anticipation of finally being at the top of the waiting list to receive the latest best seller…that’s all moot now. How many people in today’s society have (or need) that kind of patience? ~le sigh~

  3. Mikalee Byerman July 19, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    Great post…and agreed about Harry and the vampires. 😉

    We have 2 big box bookstores in my town, with one already projected to close. I was lamenting the same fate with my boyfriend the other day…where will we go to browse? To buy the next new release after reading the first few chapters in a big cozy chair with a latte? Sure, the libraries are still here…but even those are in jeopardy due to state budget cuts. Ugh.

    I will miss bookstores. And I will miss books. I’m holding out from purchasing a Kindle — if only a little longer…

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

      I’ll miss the big chairs, too. In college I practically lived at a coffee shop with big comfy chairs and couches.

      I guess we’ll have to find a new place to wander. Somehow browsing the aisles of Wal-Mart doesn’t seem quite as compelling, does it?

  4. sjwhipp July 19, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    I feel exactly the same way (and actually just wrote a blog post about it too). I love to browse, to actually touch books, to get lost in the various sections, and to chat with the booksellers at checkout. I’m staying optimistic and am hoping that more independent bookstores will pop up in light of the closing of Borders. Incidentally, I’ve never purchased a book from Amazon and I don’t plan on it any time soon.

    • Oldcat July 19, 2011 at 10:42 am #

      Most of the big bookstore culture was a place to hang out rather than get into books. As time went on Borders even had fewer and fewer books on the shelf to browse. And few of the kids hanging around in the chairs were doing homework or reading, they were chatting or texting. Book lovers have always been a minority, and as such might not be able to support huge stores in every neighborhood, but instead a small one, or one or two big ones in a city

      The smaller used bookstores are still there, from what I’ve seen. Amazon didn’t affect them much. Amazon did hurt the mall bookstores but they had virtually no stock even before it came, so not much was lost there.

      You might want to reconsider Amazon, because they also provide links to a large number of used booksellers that you can patronize. Some books are basically free with a modest postage/handling fee. If you find one you like you can then go to them directly from then on.

      • sjwhipp July 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

        Thanks for the insight into Amazon. I hadn’t thought of it as a way to find used booksellers to patronize. Perhaps, I’ll have to rethink my anti-Amazon attitude. 🙂

      • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

        You’re right about how Borders has been having less books on the shelves. Recently, they’re stock’s been leaning more and more towards new releases and the back list availability has been suffering,

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

      I’ll admit, I’ve made a lot of purchases from Amazon. In college, I ordered so many books for class there (still had my Gold membership to the locally-owned bookstore, though), that I had free Amazon Prime for a while.

  5. The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife July 19, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    I love making marks in my books, highlighting something that stood out for later reference. As long as libraries still exist, I will be ok without the book stores (since the nearest one is a few hours away).

    • helenducal July 19, 2011 at 10:24 am #

      Please tell me you DON’T make marks in library books?? 🙂

    • Oldcat July 19, 2011 at 10:45 am #

      You mark your books!! Vandal!

      Only partly kidding – I can never bring myself to do that, only did it once to a textbook in college. Post it notes and markers were great discoveries for me.

      • The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife July 19, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

        Not library books! 🙂 If I checkout a book I want to mark, I know it’s a good sign I need to buy a copy. Post it notes are a great idea!

    • patricemj July 19, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

      I sometimes like to write tiny notes in the margin too, sort of like revealing my mental conversation with the book. Later when I go back to it, it’s sort of cool to see how I responded to a passage, to see if I still feel that way. Once, while under considerable distress, I read Jane Eyre. It was for a college class, and i was making notes all over the place and coming up with connections in the book to my own sad life at that point in time. I made the mistake of loaning that book to a guy from a writing class who never returned it to me. Still wonder if he has it?

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

      Like you, I only mark the books that I own. (And only the ones that I don’t plan on lending out. Somehow, unless they’re class notes, that just seems too personal.) As much as it irks me (vandalism!) I do kind of love getting a library book that someone’s already written in. It feels like the conversation’s grown somehow, like it’s bigger than just me and the author. (Of course, I’d never write in them myself!) Have you read Good Omens? It’s like the magic book in that.

      • The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife July 20, 2011 at 8:35 am #

        I have not read Good Omens, but will have to look it up. Also, I so know what you mean by the feeling of coming upon notes (or highlighting passages) in a book. I think that’s why I have no problems lending out a book I’ve marked, because I want to give friends that personal way of getting to know me. I love borrowing a book marked by a friend.

  6. Alessandro Paiva July 19, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    I’ve been to Paris last year and forgot (???) to visit Sheakespeare And Co. Unbelieveble! Great post, though 🙂

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

      Sadly, I’ve never been to Paris. I’ve had plans to go, but was personally asked by the US ambassador to the UK to cancel the trip. I was interning with the British government during the riots in France a few years back. (Apparently a group of young American tourists make a great target for rioters.) A few of us were lucky enough to have tea with the ambassador and when he heard of our plans to go to Paris, he positively balked. You don’t say no when the ambassador asks you to change your plans.

      But, I would like to go. (And soon!) And I very much plan on visiting Shakespeare And Co. while I’m there.

  7. Leah July 19, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    I wrote a similar post about my sadness about Borders closing: . That comment above has a good point about libraries though.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

      Your post is great! The books going “night-night”? How sad! I certainly hope that never happens.

  8. Whatcha Find? July 19, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    Great post. And yes, I continue to buy books for my kids (and myself!). I will continue to write notes, underline important things and bend pages. I hope my kids will appreciate paper as I do. If nothing else I will encourage it!

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!


    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

      Thanks! When my friends start having babies (and we’re getting to that age), I’ll be getting them all books for their baby showers, kids birthday, etc. Kids books (YA especially) have a special place in my heart.

  9. Cap'n Stephel July 19, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    I was having a similar conversation with one of my friends last night. The thought of living in an area without a bookstore (or library, since state governments are looking for ways to cut spending) very sad and slightly scary. We’re losing another element of human interaction this way. I’m holding out on ebooks for as long as possible because I love paperbacks.

    I think Jonas did find his family and I wish Feegles were real. 😀

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

      Up until college, I didn’t know that there was even a question about whether he reached his family. I’d read the book probably 20 times and a friend saw my battered copy in my dorm room and said, “Oh, I love that book, but isn’t it so sad how he freezes to death in the end?” I immediately picked it up and reread the end — and promptly started crying. But, I still like to think that he made it.

  10. bestdancemoves July 19, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    the real pleasure of actually going to a book shop and buying a book .. priceless!

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

      I think that could be one of those Master Card commercials. You know… coffee $3.50, parking, $.75, paperback $14.99… going to a book shop and buying a book .. priceless!

  11. maryct70 July 19, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    I too am saddened by the apparent demise of bookstores and books themselves. I wonder though, is there an opportunity here for the little bookstore on the corner to make a bit of a resurgence?
    It seems that there is at least some demand. Readers and coffee-drinkers alike savor the atmosphere of being able to peruse through books, page by page, leaf by leaf. The resurgence might be akin to the rise of second-had record stores. The appeal is nostalgic if nothing else.
    Like David and Goliath, I am going to hold out a bit of help that the fall of the giants, might make way for a few populist endeavors to thrive!

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

      Hold out for it! I really hope you’re right. I feel like this is one of those book store conversations — Could David really have beaten Goliath?

  12. Bill Chance July 19, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    I have mixed feelings about this – well, obviously I don’t want to see anyone go out of business and lose jobs. But, as a heavy reader, I have made the switch to ebooks completely. I tried to read a paper book the other day and found it difficult – I much prefer my ereader to paper.

    I remember being in a big box book store (don’t remember which one) and looking at all the people sitting around in comfortable chairs reading books off the shelves and thinking, “I wish there was a place set up to do that – simply take books down and read them – maybe take one home for a while.” I realized I was describing a library.

    Book stores have become glorified Starbucks – a place to sit and read. I think that’s the future of “Bookstore Culture” – Libraries and Starbucks.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

      Hi Bill, well there are a lot worse places than libraries and Starbucks. I guess part of me is sad about losing a place to interact with books, and part of me is sad about losing a place to interact with bibliophiles. So, get ready for me to start asking intrusive questions about what you’re reading at Starbucks.

  13. K July 19, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    I have mixed feelings about this–I love some things that technology has done for books and book shopping (ability to instantly purchase, ease of finding reviews and similar titles, general information dissemination), but I totally understand what you mean about the experience of shopping in physical book stores. I have much the same feeling about the way that the Internet has changed computer and electronics shopping. I know I can buy tons of different computer models online and customize them to my heart’s content, but where can I actually find a display copy of the model, so I can see if I like the way the keyboard feels? It’s amazing how few display models (and stores that house them) there are these days, and it drives me crazy. I think some things (clothes, in particular) will always advantage the physical store, but I will be interested to see what kind of equilibrium we reach between virtual and physical shopping in various sectors in the future.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

      You know, I never thought about computer shopping that way, but you’re totally right. Like most cheap 20-somethings, I ordered my laptop on an after-Thanksgiving Day sale. I guess I’m lucky that I like the keyboard so much. (Vaio for the win!)

      And, buying clothes on line is hard. Especially when (like me!) you’re (not quite) 5’2″. I need to try things on and jump around and sit down. I need to see how the color looks against my skin and if the neckline’s too low (a hazard of being so short). Oh, yeah, and the length of pants…

  14. wadingacross July 19, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    I believe there will continue to be a demand and need for actual paper books. Not everyone can afford or want an e-book. Not everyone is “on-line” or wants to be online.

    There is also, always the issue about electricity/power and the tactile nature of books. If you lose power for an extended time, what of your e-book and all of your library on it? And you cannot trade, sell or give away the e-copies of any book that you own. Paper books may take up space, and the cost to print them may rise, but there will continue to be a demand for them for quite some time.

    The age of the computer was supposed to hail the demise of paper, and yet we probably use more paper now. Barnes and Nobles will fill the void left by Borders. And as for Amazon, after their pedophile book incident, I refuse to use them.

    Eventually I might get some sort of e-reader, but it will never supplant my hard-copy library.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

      Seriously, what if the zompacalypse comes and we have nothing to read once the power dies?

      As a few other readers pointed out, some eBook systems allow you to lend books, but I don’t want to have to be part of a system. I want books to be books. To be able to loan them to anyone, regardless of their device. I guess I’ll feel a bit better once we arrive on the mp3 of the book – the format that everyone can live with.

      And like you, I don’t trust a system (especially one that can yank my books back or shut down access to specific titles) to maintain my library for me.

  15. E July 19, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    I wholeheartedly agree with this post! Barnes & Noble was my favorite childhood place; the public library was a close second, but something about the “Big Bookstore” where one could sip on hot chocolate while browsing a stack of potential books (and, if the report card and general behavior were good, take a couple home to live on the bookshelf), was magical.
    Later, I moved to a smaller place, where (escaping the broader corporate/cultural shift, I suppose) our only bookstore is a gem of the tiny, charming mom-and-pop sort. It’s a wonderful place, and I do believe some of the factors that have kept it alive are the notoriously unreliable post (hence making Amazon slow and less convenient) and the coffee shop next door 🙂 I do love libraries (they’re my favorite smell), but as per the habits I formed as an English major, I rarely read a book without being overcome with the urge to highlight, underline, dog-ear and make notes in the margins… when a book is your own, you are free to love on it as you please.

    The loss of Borders breaks my heart, and like you, I worry that the other big book shops are just around the corner. Thank you so much for posting this.


    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

      Marginalia is a book becoming Real. It’s only Real once it’s shabby and worn and yours is different than everyone else’s.

      “Real isn’t how you are made… It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real… Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

      My favorite books are shabby around the edges. My full post on that topic is here:

  16. giancarlo ♥ cinnamoroll;] July 19, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    I like books more. I love feeling their contours. 😀 I love smelling them. AH! I love books more than . . . nah!

  17. Todd Pack July 19, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    I’m in Nashville, and right now, we don’t have a bookstore of any size. We lost our Border’s a few months ago, and our outwardly healthy independent, Davis-Kidd, closed before Christmas because it’s out-of-state owners were having financial problems. What’s ironic is that Nashville (despite what you might think based on country radio) is a pretty well-read city. We have 4 or 5 state and public universities. People here read.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

      Actually, I’ve got a pretty good overall impression of Nashville. One of my good friends is from there and he tells me about how cool the culture is and how there’s a lot of cool local things going on there. It’s surprising that there’s no bookstore — and sad. Although I’m lamenting the end of the bookstore era, I’m guessing a city the size of Nashville can still support one, or even a few. Start one! I’ll invest.

  18. william July 19, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    There is no doubt in my mind that book stores will slowly go out of existence, it is clear even with the type and quality of books that exist in stores at present and it is no better with the library. my wife has already bought a kindle to promote reading with our young kids. the end of that era is upon us.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

      My aunt teaches special-ed Kindergarten and she’s trying to get iPads for some of her students. Today’s young kids will grow up with the technology. For them, it’ll be normal. I like to pretend I’m a digital native, but I know that’s a lie. I like paper too much.

  19. Rachel July 19, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    What a pretty post. It made me a little sad because I’m a bookstore wanderer also, and while I do have a Kindle, I still lugged two paperbacks and two hardback novels in my carry-on on a recent trip. They may be bulky, difficult to pack, hard to store and epic space-taker-uppers, but the books I’ve gathered since high school will move with me where ever I go. I can’t imagine getting rid of my highlighted Adventures of Huck Finn, my worn Odyssey, the gargantuan, coffee-table sized Annotated Alice in Wonderland we had to read my senior year or the miniature little copy of Night that brought us all to tears.

    The books we keep are like little bread-crumbs showing us how we got to where we are today. Congrats on FP, much deserved!!

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

      My books are my bread-crumbs… they’re my history. They show me who I’ve been, and who I’ve dreamed of becoming. And how those dreams have changed over time. I like looking at my shelves and being forced to confront former versions of myself.

      And don’t get rid of Huck Finn. If there parents groups get their way, you may never again be able to get an edition with the original language.

      • b00kreader July 31, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

        I like the idea of books being bread crumbs, so true. The first paper I ever wrote in college was on the Harry Potter book burnings and how wrong I feel it is to change or stop an author’s ideas. I have recently been to antique malls; you would not believe the good and bad books you can find there. I bought a 1950’s copy of Winnie the Pooh for $6, I might not have kids yet but I know I will love reading to them from this book.

  20. badbadwebbis July 19, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    Interesting — I never really browse at Borders or Barnes & Nobel or Books-a-Million because they don’t stock many of the things that interest me, and to be honest I’m kind of appalled at the prices on paperbacks these days. My favorite bookshops are Half-Price Books (I can spend hours there) and pretty much any second-hand bookshop. You can have any number of random conversations there, and mostly they’re about books. I recently had a great conversation about the evils of the AP reading lists, the Walking Dead (book and tv series), and the re-emergence of the superhero in popular culture.

    Hit the secondhand places — those people are serious bibliophiles.

    1. Gene totally jounced the limb.
    2. Harry probably should have died, but I’m really glad he didn’t.
    3. Jonas HAD to find a family. HAD. TO. but I like the ambiguity of the ending.
    4. Never read the Disk World books.
    5. The Twilight series and the Left Behind books are books that I would happily set fire to.

    And I have a’s great for traveling, but I still prefer my real books. If I love the book, it has to be on my shelves.

    • badbadwebbis July 19, 2011 at 10:13 am #

      ‘Noble’…sorry, I DO know how to spell….

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

      Wait, what’s wrong with the AP reading list? Okay, sure it’s got some boring stuff and totally ignores S/F, but it forced me to read Shakespeare and Ethan Frome and Moby Dick and so many other good books that I probably would have skipped on my own.

      I wouldn’t set fire to Twilight, I’d just use it as a way to say, “Have you met Buffy?” and also to explain about the importance of agency in a female protagonist. Think of it as a teaching moment.

  21. wiibii July 19, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    Another step towards greener earth I guess…… But it becomes a disadvantage to those that cannot access ebooks. 😦 Border’s Demise=Rise of expensive Bookshop

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

      I’d be happier to think it equals “Rise of expensive Bookshop” than “downfall of all bookshops”.

  22. wherethedaytakesme July 19, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    so true. Books will be on the is endangered list. I love that smell and feel of the pages.

  23. Lorna July 19, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    I have a Kindle (and LOVE it) but I still go to bookshops to browse and to buy books. My Kindle isn’t replacing my bookshelf, it’s supplementing it. I also use normal bookshops to choose books – I find it harder to choose online.
    I collect children’s books, and there is no way those are going Kindle-wards anytime soon.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

      Children’s books are so tactile, I can’t see them becoming digital any time soon. But, the iPad is an amazing piece of technology and I think that if anyone can bridge that gap, Apple can.

  24. britishfangirl July 19, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    I never knew about small bookstores until this very summer. Growing up in big cities, its all about the chain stores. This summer however I discovered a charming, privately owned bookstore selling pre-owned books. It was a wonderful experience, shifting the books aside and looking for something I would like. I came across so many first was awesome!
    I also love reading books in my Kindle. My main pro argument for the Kindle is the fact that you can carry 100’s of book in one device. I always have it with me in my purse and I can pull it out, wherever and read.
    But I still buy paperbacks and hardcovers, because I come from a family of book collectors. And while people like us are still alive, those that love the smell and feel of paper, print books will be around.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 20, 2011 at 11:52 am #

      Although I was mainly thinking about new book stores when I wrote this post, used book stores are a joy unto themselves. There’s so much history there. It’s great to wonder about the people who owned the books before, and what journeys brought the books to their resting places on the shelves in the store.

  25. russelloutside July 19, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    Really enjoyed the read and I agree. In the supposed age of ‘social networking’ we are becoming less social and less enjoyable to the benefits of actually going outside and living life. Couldn’t agree more that enjoying a book is more than just text, its the feel of the book and the entire bookstore experience. (To me, movies are the same, it is the atmosphere, the smell, the conversation before that makes going to the movies worthwhile)

    • Maggie O'Toole July 20, 2011 at 11:54 am #

      Movies are way better with the smell of popcorn and with people gasping and shrieking all around you. Watching them at home, I get borded and pick up my laptop for something to fiddle with. In the theatre, even with a bad movie, I’m transfixed.

  26. helenducal July 19, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    Happily, Shakespere and Co, Paris, is still thriving. You gave me quite a start when I saw the image in your blog.
    Other fabulous bookshops include, Gertrude and Alice in Sydney, Australia. Wicked cakes too. What a combination, eh?

  27. broadsideblog July 19, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    As an author of two books — the latest of which is selling better as an e-book than in paper (now typical of the industry) — I’ve got a vested interest in how readers find and discover and love (and share that love) of books, mine and others. At my local Barnes & Noble, I recently asked how my book, Malled is doing and the associate said “I’m reading it right now!” That was very cool!

    Writers need your enthusiasm and feedback. As much as I am totally thrilled to find any reader, anywhere, in any format, I agree that the personal pleasure of browsing and giving and getting recommendations is something to hang onto. Books sell, and sell well, only through word of mouth.

    I would advise spending every penny you can in every indie bookstore you can find. I love Posman Books in NYC and enjoy the individual relationships authors have, and need, with the booksellers who choose — and hand-sell — our work.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

      True story: I wanted to learn about Malled, so what did I do? Went to and typed it in. I’m such a hypocrite.

      My awkwardness aside, it seems like a lovely book, a great combination of bio and social commentary. I look forward to reading it!

  28. Ariana@Pearl's twirl July 19, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    This situation reminds me of the movie “You’ve got mail, when a “huge giant” bookstore swallowed a tiny little bookshop and now the giant is swallowed by even bigger monster. I feel terrible about the people who are losing their jobs, but I honestly think small pops and moms bookstores are coming back if not with current bestsellers, then with old bargain books, which I love the most or maybe i am just a dreaming.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 20, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

      I thought about that movie while I was writing this, too. I haven’t seen it in years. Maybe I’ll have to watch it again.

  29. jessicaber July 19, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    I think this is so sad. I love being able to peruse a book store with nice big chairs to sit in that welcomes you being there all afternoon if you want to. I worked at Borders Books Musc and Cafe for the summer of 1999. I opened one of their brand new stores and it was beautiful (the store). One man made the comment while I was at the regiser that I gave him faith. Another man said about the store that he felt like he was walking in to church when he walked in there. I remember a woman on her cell phone sitting and looking relaxed saying that she just had to get out because she had gotten in to a fight with her boyfriend or something like that. We sold soup and paninis in the cafe and even the LDS missionaries would come in to the store and what they are allowed for media while on their missions is very limited, no tv for one and only Mormon Tabernacle Choir music which we sold there. Borders could get any book for you that had been published simply by looking up The United States Library of Congress on their computers and then ordering the book. Employees were allowed to take books home like a library as long as they were returned and if they took the book in to the bath tub they could not get it wet. Employees could buy sodas from the fountain for 10 cents each if they put it in a Borders mug or something like that. I loved in Vermont being able to go to Borders and buy a hot cocoa in the winter while browsing around …oh and they had Italian sodas. What can we do? I can tell you that our country was never happier than when people understood the value of a good large welcoming with out discretion book store like they did back then.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 20, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

      I probably should have mentioned it earlier, but I, too, did a stint as a Bookseller at Borders. (All my regular readers have heard me mention it a million times, but had I known that I was going to get FP, I would have said it. Now I feel like I’ve been lying by omission/hiding something.) I worked there after college while I searched for my “big girl job” and absolutely loved it. Soon after I joined, they took away the super cheap drinks. But there were still book loans!

  30. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide July 19, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    Love the picture of Giles, greatest librarian ever. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 20, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

      I almost put an explanation. “This is Rupert Giles, a fictional character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer who is a librarian by day and defender from evil by night” or something awful like that. But, then I thought, I should hope my readers all know who Giles is! Although I bet there were a lot of people going, “So, is Maggie really an old man?”

  31. mffanrodders July 19, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    I’m with you spend hours looking through books. There used to be a borders near me where they had seats so that you could pick a book and look through it whilst seated. I miss it. I also like a library and have a couple of thousand books at home. But the future belongs to the young and ereaders are the future. Besides, reading’s reading right?

    Congratulations on being freshly pressed.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 20, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by! I like the library, but unfortunately now it seems to be turning into a hub of people taking advantage of the free internet to get on Facebook. (I can’t judge that much, since I’m on Facebook all the time.) With all the media focus at the library, I feel like it’s lost some of its charm as a special place for readers.

  32. Ells July 19, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    I used to have a Borders near my work – it’s a clothes shop now.

    I was deeply saddened when it closed, as I spent many a lunch hour browsing there (and only occasionally ‘accidentally’ bought books).

    Weirdly, the thing I miss about it most is the magazine section. I don’t really read a lot of magazines, but when I do, I prefer something like Sound on Sound (music tech mag) or Empire, or a wildlife magazine… not the fluffy, full-of-celebrity-news type that I now have to choose from at the only other shops near my workplace… Borders always used to have such an interesting selection.

    Oh well – no sense lamenting the past *sobs quietly to herself*.

    And no, vampires don’t sparkle and yes, the Discworld invloves a turtle (and some elephants).

    • Maggie O'Toole July 20, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

      I really don’t know where people will be able to find those types of magazines anymore. Non-mainstream magazines are hard to discover and I worry that without the placement in big-box bookstores, many may fold. (Get it, magazines fold? Bad joke.) I used to pick up Radar at Borders and was very sad to see that it was no more. But, I guess that’s why the iPad is for.

  33. bibliorex July 19, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    Great post — I agree with you, it’s a loss, despite the fact that I buy many books online and have recently purchased a Kindle and started getting into eBooks. It would be a sad, sad day if actual bookstores with books on the shelves and fellow book-lovers became a rare sight.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 20, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

      We’ll have to have book lovers meet-ups so we can still connect. Come with five books that you love, but are willing to trade with short reviews as to why their awesome. Wear a name tag not with your name, but your favorite character’s name. And get ready for some great conversation. (If I lived in a bigger city, I might seriously try to organize that.)

  34. LondonS July 19, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    Honestly, a year ago, I would have been on the picket lines to save the big bookstore chains… and then I got a Kindle for Christmas. And honestly? I enjoy it. I still make notes and share passages with friends through Facebook and Twitter. And the best part is that if I finish a book on the bus/train, I’ve got another one right there to start on if I want to.

    But I still read physical books. I agree with you about the smell–there’s something about the whiff you get from an old book that can’t be replaced. And I absolutely admit to book-stalking on the Tube… I love knowing what everyone else is reading.

    Clearly I’m 50/50 on this debate; I love my Kindle but I also love going down to the used bookstore on the corner once a month.

  35. simplydelete July 19, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    I agree, the demise of bookstores is very sad. Like you, I enjoy actually picking up a book, and smelling the pages, and reading the first few pages, and looking at the cover, in order to know if I’ll really enjoy it or not. I don’t really talk to people, but I do like to browse, whether I know what book I want to buy or not. Just the other week I went into Barnes and Noble to get one book, and walked out buying four.

    But, I am ashamed to admit that I am going to be purchasing a Kindle in the very near future because of lack of space on my bookshelves. I was never really interested in them until recently because I like actually having the book and smelling the pages and knowing that I can lend it out if I wish and always go back to it. Buying a kindle may not stop me from actually buying books ever again, though. I’m sure I’ll start buying again and going into the stores once I have more shelf space or children, whichever comes first. But in the meantime, my choices of reading will have to be on a whim or by how good the population says a book is since I won’t be able to do my usual browsing routine.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 20, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

      You will keep the bookshelves, in all their cluttery, dusty glory, though, right? Although I didn’t get into it the post, I’ll also miss bookshelves as decoration. My books were the first thing I set up (after the bare necessities) when I moved into my apartment, because it just didn’t feel like home without them.

      • simplydelete July 21, 2011 at 8:51 am #

        Oh yes! don’t worry! My plan is to have a library/study when I have my own house. I love bookshelves so much I don’t know what I’d do without them! 🙂

  36. yankunchained July 19, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    Congrats on the FP! Couldn’t have said it better myself. I received a Kindle as a gift recently and feel like a hypocrite every time I use it. It’s efficient, convenient, and great for travel (there’s no way I could have squeezed 6 books – one of them a Tolstoy – into my luggage for my trip to the UK), but I’ll never stop visiting book stores and libraries. If only for the smells or just a (relatively) quiet place to browse and discover, I can’t help going for the real thing.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 20, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

      I have received both a Sony Reader and an iPad as gifts. I tried reading on the Reader and couldn’t get into it. I’ve only had the iPad for a few weeks, but I’m so worried about breaking it. It’s efficient and convenient, but I worry about getting it wet and forgetting that i set it outside. I’m getting ready to go on a beach vacation and I think that it might not make the packing list.

  37. mumsyjr July 19, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    I won’t count books out just yet. Remember when CDs came out and vinyl was declared dead an no one released anything on it anymore? And now the kids these days say that vinyl indefinably sounds better, and bands like Greenday and The Head and The Heart actually release their albums on vinyl as well as digital formatting, and also several small hole in the wall stores have sprung up in my area that either carry old and new vinyl or are exclusively devoted to it and even Target is carrying cheap turn tables again. So I am pleased I did not abandon the vinyl, I just expanded to include digital as well. I suspect the pattern will be similar with books, and while I really, really, want a kindle, that does not mean I will not keep getting the real deal…it just means the real deal will end up being cheaper for a while because you can only get them used at Goodwill and tiny places you have to hunt out. Which is simultaneously sad and exhilarating, and then I will lament the fun I had doing so when the books make their smug return. Or something. I think I may have had too much coffee.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 20, 2011 at 6:41 pm #

      I see what you’re saying, but as a medium of mass consumption, vinyl is dead. Vinyl is to CD as scroll is to book. Sure, they’re cool mediums, but their just not practical. But not we’re moving from CD to mp3 and book to ebook. Where will we be going next?

  38. fireandair July 19, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    Mixed feelings. I’ve developed such esoteric tastes lately that if it weren’t for online booksellers, I’d have nothing. Walk into a bookstore, and you find seventeen thousand Sidney Sheldon books and some coffee-table books of photos of Turkey or something. The problem is, I’m usually the one looking for the old copy of the French book on Baroque opera, that old tome on Middle Egyptian from 1921, and one of a two-volume set on the works of Haendel. Bookstores have been worthless to me for a very long time.

  39. Sandy Sue July 19, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    Here’s my solution. Go to the library. Browse, touch, sniff, dip into a gazillion different books. Take them home. Take home the ones you only think you might like. Experiment with different genres. If you hear about a book you’d like, tell the circulation folks. They’ll either borrow it from a neighboring library or purchase a copy of their own.

    Support any legislation that funds libraries. Get involved in the other activities there. Join one of the book clubs. The librarians always have terrific recommendations and “if you liked that one, then…”

    And if you really need your own copy of a book, then go online and purchase it.

  40. cantshakethecliche July 19, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    Very well written, well done

  41. Kelly Booth July 19, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    I too love being able to pick up a book and touch it. I like to flip thru the chapters and get a feel for the book before I buy it – not a couple paragraphs that some publisher decides you can see online.

  42. Becky July 19, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    I love bookstores — big or small. I love the smells. I love the feel of the book in my hand, the feel of the pages between my fingers. I love the sound of the page as my hand flips it over and smooths it out. There is nothing more marvelous than picking up a book from the store (or library) and rushing home to sit in my favorite chair and delve into a new world that hasn’t been discovered. Future generations will have missed out on these amazing experiences and touching of the senses.

  43. Queen Linda July 19, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    It’s almost too ironic that the advertisement randomly(?) attached to your post is for a Kindle. Congratulations on being Pressed.

  44. Hopewell July 19, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    I browse bookstores and libraries to see what’s new. I usually get fiction at the library in case I hate it. I buy nonfiction either at a book store or from (sorry) Amazon. I’m a librarian so book stores are my 2nd home, but I love the ease of online ordering when I know what I want. I also browse and a number of book blogs as well as Amazon’s books of the month for ideas. I am extremely sad that Borders is the one to die–it’s so much better than B/N. Soon we’ll be back to Waldens-like-mall book stores with only movie tie-in books and celebrity gossip magazines!

  45. jesse July 19, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    This may seem weird, but I love to have “real books” on my shelves. Because I love it when visitors visited my place, they would be able to see what I am reading and what have I read and this will be a good topic of conversation. The books on my bookshelves also reflect my personality.

    BUT, if I have books on my iPad or Kindle or my computer, it won’t be the same as they are not as visible as “real books”. And, I don’t think I will say to a visitor, “Hey, look at my Kindle!”.

    So, yeah. I love “real books”.

  46. beautifulfirsts July 19, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    Came across your blog after I logged off of mine. Glad I did, as it’s reassuring to know that others share my thoughts on the matter of books and book stores.

    If history tells us anything about trends, about thirty years from now, hipsters in skinny jeans and vintage beanies woven from actual wool will be rifling through book bins in hopes of adding a cool title to their collection of real books, much as the hipsters of today are thumbing through stacks of vinyl at newly opened record stores.

    The best thing about this digital age, and the most ironic I suppose, is that people like us can connect online and commiserate over the demise of real life experiences.

    Write on . . .

    • Thomas July 19, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

      I agree about the hipsters looking for books in the future. And just think, someday CDs will seem retro in an age of digital MPwhatever downloads.

  47. Liz Benitez July 19, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    I haven’t tried any electronic “text”, I too like to read a book. While I don’t seem to be in love with the bookstore atmosphere as you do, I am lamenting not being able to look before I buy.

  48. Aimee July 19, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    I agree 100% with you on this matter. I am saddened as well by the closing of Borders. Sure, there’s still Barnes and Noble, but I felt more at home at Borders than I ever will at Barnes and Noble. (Plus they were cheaper) Although I do enjoy my Kindle (don’t hate me!) I do enjoy buying the books as well if I don’t want to carry the Kindle with me and to flip through real pages. Also, the only books I do have on my kindle are old books.

  49. oddsandems July 19, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    Maybe don’t mention the Harry living thing? I hadn’t gotten around to finishing the series yet. 🙂

    I agree with the premise that we’re losing a cultural and long-standing tradition, but you have to admit that we are gaining something significant by being able to acquire books and hold as many as we want in the palm of our hand. Something always has to die for something else to live.

    But I wouldn’t worry about books disappearing just because Borders does. Even if they do shut down, books will still exist for the rest of our lifetimes, and we’ll still have libraries.

  50. Onefineham July 19, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Borders really created a nice atmosphere but I’m just wondering if they over-estimated the right “size” for their foot-prints. Clearly they did not adapt quick enough to the changes that came as a result of Amazon, et. al. One would have had to believe they would have seen the writing on the wall vis a vis Tower Records and that business line’s decline during the early days of digital product delivery.

  51. Expat Gourmet July 19, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    I don’t entirely agree that Amazon is bad, cheap books means more books for me. But I do agree with you that books are so much more than just text. I will never jump on the ebook bandwagon. What would grace my shelves and walls if I did? Books fulfill many more roles in our lives than just giving us the pleasure of reading. They are beautiful and inspiring (Phaidon), you can use stacks and shelves of them to impress people, convey a message about yourself, use them to decorate your living space. Not to mention that ebook cookbooks are just rubbish. Splatters and stains in your well used cookbooks indicate love and devotion to a book. And an index in a real book is just easier to use. A Kindle is portable, but really, so is a book.

  52. Dhienar and Salam July 19, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    Physical books are still better for me. The feel is diiferent!

    Visit my blog to know about India and Indonesia (has just started)

  53. AvesMomma July 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    Great post and congrats on Freshly Pressed! I too have mused on the same topic of the demise of the book store and the need to meander through stacks of books (the library just isn’t the same). Even though I’ve complained about prices being higher at bookstores, I will readily go there and spend a few dollars more in order to have that tactile experience you so beautifully described. Ah, the days of the happy bibliophile are numbered I fear and we will be relinquished to back room dealings and shunned from polite society for carrying a book! I have a kindle, I wanted one for awhile…I got it this past christmas and haven’t read A SINGLE BOOK on it! I bought it to save space but so much is missing when reading off a screen and not physically turning pages. Perhaps nostaligia will bring back a return of the small, privately owned bookstores eventually. The last one in my area just closed a few months ago 😦

  54. Irv O. Neil July 19, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    I love books and bookstores too…and I have enough books that for all practical purposes I shouldn’t even go into bookstores anymore to browse and buy. Yet I recently began to publish my own erotic stories on Kindle because that’s a market a professional writer can now tap in place of all the magazines that have fallen by the wayside. What can you do? Times change. Still, I look for books everywhere. I get great pleasure in finding a copy of The War with Hannibal by Livy, or The Bridesmaid by Ruth Rendell, for a buck apiece on a wobbly little metal stand at a flea market…there will always be somewhere to browse, thankfully, because people will always be selling books.

    I didn’t like the big box stores at first, but then they did something I’d always wished the smaller stores did–made it comfortable for you to browse, put in chairs or and even coffee. I didn’t drink much coffee there, but the chairs were a plus.

    Congrats on being FP.

  55. Aleza July 19, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    Very well said. I will really really miss being able to spend time in Borders. I will miss the smell. I will miss the comfort. Thank you for this post.

  56. Karoline July 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    I live near two bookstores (one big box one, one indie one) and would hate to see them close. I’d actually prefer print than ebooks but I have both kinds. Nothing beats going to a bookstore (or library) and just taking the time to browse and just..well, just taking it all in. I find the atmosphere calming and relaxing when I enter a bookstore/library. (well…until the demon children come in screaming and running amok) 😉

    it’s sad to see this, and when it’s end I will be very sad to see it go.

  57. jamieahughes July 19, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes, Gene jounced that limb. Harry should not have died. And I am certain that a family was in Jonas’ future–maybe not a “nuclear” one, but one he could love nevertheless.

    As for books, I’m a half and half girl. I buy books I just read once for pleasure on the Kindle because it is handy for travel. I read a lot and sometimes want to change books mid-trip. Rather than carry three, the Kindle has been a big help in that area. I was also running out of places to store books (five seven shelf bookshelves and counting), and the Kindle helped me save space. It also saves money, which allows me to buy more books!

    I love used bookstores and browsing in coffee shop/mega stores as well. I try to balance both and even have some books I love such as The Song of Ice and Fire series for example, in print and Kindle text. It’s a fine line to walk, I’ll agree. It was hard for me to say “okay” to a Kindle at first, but it does have it’s place. We just have to find a place that works for us as bibliophiles and, above all else (personal tastes included) protect the knowledge that books contain before we break ranks over their appearance. The word is indeed the thing.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

      You are the second person to mention The Song of Ice and Fire in the comments. (Or maybe the first, I’m just reading them and approving whenever I have a free moment. Grrr, work getting in the way of blogging.) I’m reading it right now (about halfway through book 3) and loving it.

      Like you, I fill my apartment with bookshelves. They add color, and character, and they’re just generally comforting. How will we fill our space without them? Blank walls?

      • PearlsMakeItProfessional July 19, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

        I agree! I have books all over my apartment, and not just on bookshelves. They’re stacked under lamps, under picture frames, under more books. They’re really the best decorating technique. 🙂

  58. PearlsMakeItProfessional July 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm #


    Thanks so much for posting this blog. I am a book editor in Dallas, and I am horribly saddened by the thought of e-books taking away my beloved paperbacks. (Yes, I’m a paperback lover! Who needs dust jackets?) I have actually started to feel desperate enough that I’ve stopped shopping at Half Price and Amazon and have gone back to my Barnes & Noble roots–if enough of us did this, it really would make a difference.
    I would love for local bookstores to somehow make an underdog-wins-it-all comeback, but the fact is that our society and our literary culture are changing, whether we like it or not. I will say that statistics are still showing that e-books stand a much, much higher chance of selling if a hard copy book is released simultaneously. This fact gives me hope. That and the comforting knowledge that there are others like me out there: those of us who still want to turn our pages and feel paper, not an impersonal glass screen, those of us who want the reassuring weight of the book in our hands, those of us who want to share the love and let others (gasp!) borrow our beloved books.

    For more book loving, feel free to visit my blog:
    I recently did a post on the art that can be made from hard copies of books. See it here:

    Have a lovely day!

  59. Kirsten Bipoblogger July 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    Kindle, Nook, what are those? I still buy CD’s believe it or not to support artists. There’s a greater connection when you have the physical content, same goes for a book, I agree, the musty smell of the pages, the texture and the feeling like you are taking an actual journey away from your life as you turn the pages of that book. Technology has its pro’s and con’s just like everything in life. We’re free moral agents we decide what we’re gonna do. But it is sad to see the demise of a lot of our book stores. Borders in particular because everyone has a Borders story to tell.

  60. Thomas July 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Oh how I feel your pain. Here in Philly we still have a few small bookstores and a fair amount of used bookstores. I just love browsing among the shelves. However, we are going on an extended trip and I finally bought a Kindle so I wouldn’t have to lug around so many books. Reading on the Kindle is just not the same. I believe you CAN judge a book by its cover and in the Kindle they are coverless and plain, just text like you so eloquently stated.

    Here is a post about my thought process leading up to buying the Kindle:

  61. mekkalekkah July 19, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    Of course he found a family at the end of The Giver! Oh, and I agree with you about Harry as well.

    It is a shame to lose bookstores. I’m lucky because I live in Austin, and we have Book People. I don’t go to any other bookstore now that I can go there. I feel bad knowing that there are other cities that don’t have stores like Book People.

  62. Kerry July 19, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    I LOVE Book stores and libraries. I don’t buy a book without looking at it first! holding it, smelling it, browsing thru the pages….
    Many of my early dates with my husband were at Bookstores!! and still are.
    When I used to “escape” for Mommy time- it was always to the local Borders, and I always purchased a book or two and then sat down w/ a coffee and read un-interrupted!!
    Most of the books I buy now are design books, instructional books, and I won’t buy them until seen, thats when I know if I want it or not!!
    Have resisted buying the NOOK and Kindle, but do have a few Ebooks on my laptop!
    It is sad, and we make a concerted effort to visit Barnes and Noble, and purchase books, in a vane attempt to ‘save’ them!!
    However, their change of disposing of the comfy chairs and less places to sit and enjoy the books, is making it harder!! Tho I know they need to SELL and not just have browsers and be a community mtg place, that is what I enjoyed the most!
    I fear that with all this technicle advances and the internet biz boom, will we one day never venture out from home and be virtual hermits existing only on-line!!
    Its a scary thought!

  63. Geek Squirrel July 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    I’m not prepared to write books and book stores off just yet. I think the market is still there, even if it has shrunk somewhat, and that given time the smaller book stores will eventually return.

  64. dreamweaver38 July 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    I’m a little afraid about a couple of the things in your post…

    First is how you select books. From my understanding, if you’re not coming into a book store, big or small, with at least some idea of what you’re looking for, then you’re like every other non-reader looking for a book. You judge by the cover. Yeah, you may flip through a couple pages, read the reviews, but that’s what every other non-reader does.

    You take into no consideration the actual content of the book. Every book is a New York Times bestseller these days, the reviews tell you nothing (I want you to seriously look at the reviews on the back of your copy of Twilight, and then tell me that reviews tell the truth, no matter whether you liked Twilight or not). You don’t consider the author, have you read their work before? Did you like their style? Their theme? Have your friends recommended it to you?


    Although I do too enjoy a good conversation about books with all the “what ifs” and “that’s ridiculous-es,” talking with the person you’ve just met next to you isn’t really a good judge of whether or not the book will be good in your eyes unless you’ve learned from your other conversation that they like the same books you did. And remember, you actually have to pay for this book.

    The move to e-books will in no way take away from these conversations. This is what the internet is built for. Leave a post on this blog about what you thought of whatever it is you are reading, and especially if you say something controversial, your comments will become a hotbed of debate over that novel. There are hundreds of sites online, such as, that are built to track what you read and start conversation about books.

    What makes this better than talking to a stranger in a book store, who probably lives in my area, probably has similar cultural views, the same influences… is that I can now talk about whether it would have been better if Harry just stayed dead with someone in Japan, reading the book in a different language, with a totally different cultural background influencing their opinion of the novel. I can’t get that in a book store at home.

    Now, don’t completely throw me out as a book hater just yet. I totally agree that it’s a scary thought of book stores disappearing. I love going on adventures to find what I’m looking for, and the smell of the store, and the shelves and shelves and shelves of books. There’s nothing better than holding an actual book in your hand and flipping the pages. Although I am seriously considering buying a Kindle, there are still MANY books I will go to buy just so I can read a physical copy.

    The Kindle (or any e-reader really…). You’ve completely ignored commenting on the practicality of it. It’s smaller, more manageable, lighter, and probably one of the most enticing features, BOOKS ARE CHEAPER. AND the author actually gets more profit because money doesn’t have to go into printing the books.

    As a person about to become pennies and nickels university student… I like the idea of paying less than $10 for an e-book from Amazon, than having to pay to get to and from the book store and then pay at least $15 or more for a copy of that book. Then I have to find a place to store them all in a dorm room. Also, thinking about studying English where I have to purchase a bajillion novels… all of them portable on a Kindle, which can record notes, and now offers real page numbers to editions for making citations… I’m kind of sold.

    E-books are getting people who don’t read, to read. Not to mention the expanding literature audience. Going into a book store, the writers of Novels and Non-Fiction are the Kings of the literary castle. If you write short stories or poetry and you aren’t dead yet, then you’re pretty much out of luck in a book store, even if you’ve compiled all of your short stories/poems into a book.

    Now, with e-readers, it’s easier for those kinds of writers to have an audience. You’re more likely to read a short story or poem on your Kindle than you are to buy a giant book of them where you may not necessarily like them all.

    You’re article is rather biased, one in that you pick novels by the cover, and two that in criticizing e-books, you failed to address their best points at all.

    • Gina July 19, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

      I have to agree with you, Dreamweaver. I love regular books but when it comes to ease and convenience and cost, you can’t beat e-books. I write novels and whenever I go to out of state conventions, such as when I flew to Austin in April/May, I brought my nook with me and it kept me company between sessions all weekend. At those conventions, they always give away goodie bags filled with books. I had to leave three of those books behind at the hotel because I simply couldn’t take them all on the plane with me (no post office/shipping place near the hotel-I checked). And the airlines are charging for extra baggage now. In addition, I have arthritis in my spine so carrying all those books around is painful. Remember when there was a huge hoopla over kids getting back problems because they’re carrying all those schoolbooks around? E-readers completely eliminate this problem. Imagine all those schoolbooks in an e-form. Sure, e-readers are expensive now but that won’t always be the case. Kids are much more attracted to iPads and electronic devices than they are regular books (I understand this is not the case of ALL children, I’m simply stating the majority of kids are like this.) and these same kids are going to be growing up with these devices and feeling nostalgic about them, just as we are with regular books right now. It was also a hot topic at the last con I went to. Best selling authors headed up the discussion about e-books vs. regular books and said that regular books will become collectible and e-books will rule the market. And you want to know what the best-selling authors were doing during free time? They read their Kindles, iPads, and nooks! One author even admitted he had one of each. I’m not saying that physical books aren’t great-they are-but it’s the words inside the books that are more important than the smell of the ink and glue. I buy them for the stories. I’m sorry for Borders and all the people losing their jobs but it’s a changing world. You must evolve to stay alive.

      • dreamweaver38 July 20, 2011 at 10:03 am #

        Well said. Well said.

  65. la-vandala-abusiva July 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    I like bookstores too…I can spend hours in one of them. Too sad they’re closing.

  66. Curry July 19, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    Yeah, it’s sad. I like the atmosphere of being in a big book store, and like the “treasure hunt” of searching through a family ran one just as much. But I still can’t deny that ebooks are tremendously more convenient (and cooler). I would have switched to one a long time ago if I didn’t keep all the books I read as trophies to put on my bookshelves.

  67. The Edmonton Tourist July 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    Our library lends books for your kobo (canadian esc. kindle) It apears on your kobo and vanishes in 3 weeks unless you renew it. They are licened to lend out only so many at a time. So there are waiting lists for it. I love books stores, but i love the amount of room my home has using ebooks.

  68. notibid July 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    I totally agree. I still can’t wrap my head around the idea that there are whole CITIES out there that have zero bookstores. For example: Nashville, where Ann Patchett opened a bookstore because no stores were available to sell her next book. It’s incredibly sad.

  69. J. Wade Harrell July 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    For those like me who don’t aspire to spend any time in the social atmosphere of a bookshop and who lives in a rural setting, it just brings the bookshop setting into my home. I feel for those who do but as an author and a country boy, I like having the world brought to me instead of me going to it.

  70. anonnickus July 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    Before the success of Amazon there was not yet success for WordPress. You will always have someone to talk too about your reading likes and dislikes and cliffhanger mysteries. That might be someone like me. You can even also talk Love and Vampires if you wish, albeit to someone else. Reading and writing hasn’t changed but gosh I miss my papyrus scroll. Wonderful thoughtful post.

  71. avidtraveler87 July 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    I really enjoyed your post. I agree with you completely. There is just something about being able to walk into a book store and wander in the aisles. Nine times out of ten, I don’t go into a book store with a plan or a list of books to buy. I just go to browse and see what is there. Nearly every time I manage to find something that caught my eye or interest and walk out a new proud owner of some light reading material.

  72. JL July 19, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    I have the same feeling. I love the general aura of a bookstore. The smell of new books, air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter, the fake fireplace and the Starbucks in the corner; all elements of the Chapters Bookstore I went to growing up. I wanted to work at a bookstore as a part-time job too.

  73. pryan51 July 19, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    Curious as to why you think it would be ‘more fitting if Harry died’. I liked that he didn’t and thought it made sense that he didn’t. He was an innocent victim in the entire thing so to me it would have been tragic if he DID die. Although other innocent victims died; that was tragic and there was no logic in that but where is there logic in real [or fictional] life? Otherwise enjoyed your entry and agree with the wanting to browse. I could have taken an ereader on my recent trip to Europe but then wouldn’t have visited bookstores there and found great new authors I wouldn’t have known about.

  74. summerslowrunner July 19, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    What an excellent post. I feel much the same way.

    Despite my fierce affection for my Kindle, going to a bookstore for no reason at all other than to wander around aimlessly has been one of my favorite activities for as far back as I can remember. I, too, love the smell of the books, the feel of the crisp pages, the anticipating of finding that perfect book to take back home and tear into with a cup of coffee and a good snack.

    But, admittedly, I’ve become one of “those.” I’ll learn of a book I’d like to read and I’m immediately on Amazon or even eBay to find the best deal. Admittedly, this is due to my incredibly desperate financial situation, but it’s tough to argue with the logic behind finding a book online for $4 rather than paying $15 + tax in the store.

    It’s a sad conflict all around. I do like to think that there are enough print loyalists out there that the book industry won’t be able to go under completely. Let’s hope so, anyway.

  75. dagurlwiddamole July 19, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    Great Post and funny i should stumble upon it today – Because, just yesterday i was at a mall, and had noticed that one of their bookstores had closed down !! It’s such a shame that bookstores are closing down. It’s a wonderful feeling to come across ‘book lovers’ in this technologically advanced world! One will never get the pleasure of reading a book versus reading on a kindle and what-have-you’s. Browsing books on on a webpage is not the same as browsing books shelves. Owning a book, reading it and having the ability to flip those folded pages all over again is the best experience – hands down!!
    Congrats on being freshly pressed!!

  76. Adam July 19, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    During my junior year of high school we read A Separate Peace, and we got into a huge argument over whether Gene jounced the limb or not. We ended up staging a mock trial with myself and a couple of my friends as the prosecution arguing that he did and several other classmates serving as the defense. I loved that book and it’s one of the few books that I had to read for school that I have purchased and read again as an adult.

    There is something special about a book that I don’t think any e-reader will ever be able to match. The feel of a book is wonderful, and while I don’t usually mark in books, I’ve known people who do and can respect that. It’s also much easier to loan a book to someone, for example I’m reading George RR Martin’s “A Dance with Dragons,” and earlier today my mom said that she’ll have to finish up another book of mine she’s reading so that she can read A Dance with Dragons when I’m done with it.

    As much as everyone seems to be going towards more electronics, I don’t think books will ever go away. And while Borders might be closing up, I think Barnes & Noble will be fine for years to come, in part because they do have a quality e-reader as part of their chain, but also because I think those who read books will always love browsing through a store looking for books.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

      Adam, I think you and I may secretly be the same person. We had the same trial at my high school. I think I was on the defense team… And, I’m also working my way through the Song of Ice and Fire books. (I’m currently on book 3.) I’ve been buying the paperbacks so that I can loan them to my friend and my brother. Those books are so twisty and interwoven, it’s great to have someone that you can discuss them with.

      I do also hope that Barnes and Noble will last. As another commenter pointed out, their in a much better place financially than Borders was. They’ve made much smarter investment and management decision. And the jumped into eCommerce and eBooks when Borders fled from them.

  77. Erin W July 19, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    I am a constant reader who totally supports the digital revolution. I never got the big deal with smelling books anyway. Here are some facts to consider:

    The social aspect of reading has not been lost; it, like everything else, has just gone digital. I can lose hours over at GoodReads ( or LibraryThing ( looking at my friends’ libraries, or arguing with strangers about Kavalier and Clay. I highly recommend either site. There are probably dozens of others I don’t know about.

    I don’t have a Kindle, but my mom does. With it, she can lend books to friends who also have Kindles as well as check out library books through the OverDrive system. (It deletes the book from the system on the due date.) Also, I’ve always been a heavy reader, but she historically has not been. The enormous convenience of the Kindle has increased the amount of reading she does threefold, at least.

    Amazon supports independent booksellers through their marketplace. I run book searches through Amazon but almost always buy from somebody with a smaller-scale operation.

  78. iamperfectlydysfunctional July 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    I, too, am saddened about the end of the bookstore era. As I read your blog I was in complete agreement with everything you felt and said. I was given a Nook for Christmas last year and still haven’t used it yet because I’m not ready to conform. I do a lot of writing in notebooks because I feel the connection to my writing more than when I type on the computer. One positive thing about paperback becoming electronic is that we are saving some trees. I don’t know if I will ever get used to reading strictly online or electronically but at least something sacred is saved.

  79. Liz Watkins July 19, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    Borders did not die because of Amazon or e-books. They died because the company was run very badly. They had a huge amount of debt and their biggest bookstore competitor (B&N) has none.

  80. hikari1996i1996 July 19, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    I feel the exact same way. Books are dying, and there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s quite sad, the end of the centuries-long era of ink.

    The best we can do is to continue supporting bookstores and inspire the next generation to love reading the real thing.

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!


  81. newsy1 July 19, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    I always said I would be fine if I lived in an area that had a great bookstore and shoe store. Going to a bookstore for me is an actual experience. The smell, the coffee, the people and of course the books and magazines. Bookstores are for browsing-Amazon is not. Great blog.

  82. Eva McCane July 19, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    i’m with ya! our local borders just closed shop and i went to the “going out of business” sale to scoop up some good reads before they locked the doors. i love the local shops, but there aren’t many, and they certainly don’t carry as many options. and i love real books too much to get a kindle or something like that.

  83. cliccoaching July 19, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    Great commentary and I’ve read most of the replies to your post. I do not have an iPad or Kindle or any other reading device. I still enjoy picking up a book from my library and reading from cover to cover. Or purchasing a book that I will always treasure or can turn to for advice.
    My concern is that I hear we are moving towards digital school books because of a decrease in publishing and lack of school district funding. What about the students from low income families or unemployed families? Do they have to suffer not only from lack of school funding but now they have to suffer because of their socioeconomic status?
    I just see this situation getting worse. I’m hoping it doesn’t but it sure feels like it.

    • dreamweaver38 July 20, 2011 at 10:15 am #

      There are schools that are actually doing this, there’s one in my hometown that’s giving it a trial run with the senior classes. (also, there’s ALWAYS a program in place at schools to help out kids in the position you speak of) Here’s how it works:

      The school owns a class set of kindles for each homeroom. Each student has a number until they graduate, and then that number is recycled to a new Grade 9. If a student owns their own kindle, they can submit it to the office instead and get their textbooks on there. At the end of the semester the kindles are returned, and then you get your next set of texts.

      The student is required to place a deposit on the kindle at the beginning of the year, which is returned to them at the end. This solves damage and liability issues, though the Kindle is apparently surprisingly durable.

  84. cr July 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    I agree with you completely. I love books & bookstores because I’ve always been able to find just the right book for me at that moment in my life. I’ve done lots of research in bookstore coffee shops too. Libraries are nice but you can’t drink coffee there and they’re not always up to date. Online book shopping gives me a headache and I do enough screen reading at work. A good book is like an old friend.

  85. Grace July 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    I love bookstores, and am not yet a fan of e-books (waaaaaaaaaay too much DRM). However, I’d disagree that a move to electronic media means the end of book culture. Instead, book culture is going to find a niche in internet culture. It’s already doing that with book blogs, readalongs, etc. that connect book lovers and make it easier than ever to have those conversations such as you mentioned. In fact, since starting to discuss books in the blog world, I’ve got so many recommendations from people with similar tastes as my own that I’m starting to rack up a considerable list.

  86. Justin July 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    I won’t touch an e-book or Kindle for anything. There is a great used bookstore in my town that is still doing pretty well and I hope it never goes by the wayside. Electronic media has a place but in the world of books, in my opinion.

    • Justin July 19, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

      I meant to write “but NOT in the world of books…”

  87. codester July 19, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    Bookstores in North America will disappear as has the typewriter and the film camera but these things still exist in other parts of the world. North Americans forget that we make up but a small percentage of the world’s population. We fail to look beyond our continent to realize the reality for most people is much different from our own. Most people struggle to provide food, shelter and clean water and a Kindle has no place in their life. There are still hundreds of millions of people who have never surfed the Internet.
    I think it is dangerous for us to lose our bookstores. We continue to isolate ourselves from the world around us. We fear tactile experiences. Computers have turned people into lazy typists and lousy writers. Digital cameras has created a world full of images we can no longer believe because of the ease of manipulation. The lose of bookstores will give power and control to those who can distribute and promote ebooks. It gives power to those who manufacture the e-readers. It narrows the reading experience to consumption of what the corporates want people to consume. Books can be easily censored. Reading data and trends will be tracked in real time allowing greater focus and specialization by publishers to meet the immediate “demand” of the reading public.
    Ironically, we have been warned about the coming future by writers such as Orwell and Isimov through their paper-based books.

  88. kbrooksy July 19, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    I wish you weren’t so right. I too dread the end of bookstore culture. Perhaps the bookstores of the future will all be antique stores, with copies of The Hardy Boys sitting on a chipping oak shelf. A sad vision indeed.

    For a counterpoint to your article, read the somewhat cynical and book hating NY Times Op-ed, “Let’s Ban Books, or at Least Stop Writing Them.”

  89. everythingglitters July 19, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Agree, agree, agree on all counts. There’s nothing that compares to feeling actual pages in your hands. Or acquiring a collection of books that you can stack on a shelf. Which begs the question — what will happen to bookcases? I teeter on the verge of Gen X and Gen Y and consider myself to be tech-savvy, but the rise of the e-reader and demise of the bookstore is something I don’t ever want to have to buy into.

  90. John Baker July 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more. You visit bookstores exactly like I do. There is one troubling aspect of the looming eBook age that you missed. Electronic media is fragile and short lived. Classic paper books, printed on high quality acid free paper, have already lasted centuries. How many electronic storage formats have we gone through in just fifty years?
    I commented about this very topic at:

  91. Mr. Freelance July 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    What a beautiful post! I feel just like you regarding the book stores, so let’s all work together, us bibliophiles, towards a world filled with actual books 🙂 Looking forward to follow your blog from now on too, and a big congrats on being freshly pressed!

  92. theexperfectionist July 19, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    This is so depressing! As if it wasn’t depressing enough that Harry Potter has come to an end. Now I really need to hunt down all the hard backs for future children.

    There needs to be an anti-kindle campaign. I don’t want one. I want books and bookstores. I know it probably wouldn’t do much good for a handful of people to hold out…but it owuld make me feel like I’m doing something.

  93. marriagecoach1 July 19, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    It is a sad day for authors as well because there are fewer and fewer places to market out books.
    John Wilder

  94. Domino July 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    So true and so sad! There is something magical about a book … the sound when turning each page, the smell, the weight, the paper, … the front and back cover inviting you to dive into the story … I used to work in a smal bookshop “L’ Atelier” in Paris and opening those big boxes of freshly printed new books each September for the long awaited “Rentrée Littéraire” was always an exciting time. It always reminded me of the excitment felt as a little girl when opening my Christmas presents …. Nothing can replace a book! Thank you for this great post which brought back so many good memories …

  95. robertforto July 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    Great post. Totally agree with you about the “feel” of a book. An e-book is just not the same.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!


  96. Jennifer Roberts July 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    Yes, NO! Yes. Don’t know. And vampires absolutely do not sparkle.

    I love books. I love the feel of books – I am very tactile when I choose a book. If I am buying a classic I will find the one that feels right.

    I would rather have a heavy suitcase than take an e-reader on a trip.

    I spend HOURS and HOURS in our local Barnes and Noble and library. My favorite bookstore in the world is Nantucket Bookworks and I usually purchase at least 5-10 books every summer while I’m there.

    I will continue to buy from bookstores rather than online because the experience is a million times better. Thanks for your wonderful post.

  97. writteningold July 19, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    Another thing I love about bookstore is that you can sit down and read an ENTIRE book without having to buy it. I will admit, I have a Kindle, and it comes in handy on long trips (Goodbye, gigantic book bag!). But if I have an option, I prefer a tangible book over an e-book.


  98. Artemis July 19, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    Giles! Sorry, that picture made me very happy.

  99. Matt S July 19, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    Excellent posting. I too was saddened by this turn of events. I suspect it was inevitable. There are so many books I would not have discovered if I did all of my book shopping online.
    I should do a posting about this topic. Feel free to visit my blog at

  100. Erin July 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we’re at the end of bookstores. I know that’s a very realistic observation right now, and one that seems to be supported by Amazon’s market dominance and the rise of ebooks. But I’m in the wait-and-see camp; we are far too early in the game to be predicting the end of the brick and mortar bookstore. Look how the Shop Local movement has gotten stronger and more public in recent years. Look how bookstores like Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn are expanding while other indie bookstores all over the country are opening, innovating, getting more creative and seducing people away from their computer screens for those very reasons you listed. And lets not forget how the the state tax debates going on across the country have raised awareness about Amazon’s questionable business practices.
    No, I say the bookstore crisis we’re facing today is as much a product of a bad economy as it is a change in reading/book-buying preference. There will always be people who prefer to read printed books and there will always be a bookstore to supply. I’m putting my faith in the scrappiness of booksellers, publishers and ordinary book-lovers like me.

  101. notlateone July 19, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    This is an interesting post, actually. I wasn’t surprised to hear that Borders was closing, despite having grown up with it, going down the aisles on rainy days and finding a good book. My Mom used to work a job after my school day and couldn’t afford child care, and so she’d drop me off at Barnes and Noble (or, it might have been Borders…one or the other) and I’d grab a book and sit in their in-store cafe with a hot chocolate and just read. . .it was a nice, safe place to be.

    For my 14th birthday this year, I got a Kindle from my Dad and I have to say that I LOVE it. It’s a good argument you make that we won’t talk as much about books due to their lack of…existence. Sensory IS important, but at the same time, this is making information available to everyone, everywhere. You don’t even have to have a Kindle to use the Kindle app on your Droid, iPhone, Mac, iPod, or PC. Say you’re trying to do some late night research on something and it’s wayyy past a book store’s closing time–oh, well, just go to Amazon and download it.

    On another note, books on Kindle are cheaper than physical copies. Considering my family doesn’t make a lot of money (I mean, REALLY…not a lot of money) it’s a life saver. Also, there are a ton of FREE books on the Kindle database, specifically, classics.

    My Mom is an English professor and she says it is AMAZING how technology is used in the classroom. Students show up with their Kindles in hand and their papers on their iPhones. It’s surprisingly hassle-free.

    So now the question that I have is this: are you right in that we’ll talk less and less, or will the way all this information is now available to us make us start getting interested?

  102. joshsuds July 19, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    I completely agree. I think that we as a society want more technology, less mess, and lower prices. Unfortunately, that often comes at the expense of things as powerful as real, physical books. With the decline of book readership, I feel we’re losing a big part of our culture.

  103. Sarah Cason July 19, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    Loved your post. It’s not only the bookstores, but the libraries, too. At my local branch, they recently installed machines where you can check out your own books. It’s like they’re trying to replace the librarian with a machine.

    To me, the Kindle, Nook, et al are just like the iPad- conveniences we didn’t know we needed. 100s of books in my pocket? I can only read so many at a time.

    Shakespeare & Co. is a wonderful shop that made me tear up upon entry. Here’s hoping we can find a few more spring up stateside.

  104. StirlingEditor July 19, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    Suppose I’m in the minority here, but….I’m a fan of ebooks, and never truly enjoyed the tactile experience of paperbacks. I’m designing an ebook from the ground up right now. It’s a new technology, but with time the xhtml bugs will get worked out, an industry standard will come into play, and we’ll start to see more and more professionally designed ebooks out there.

    We can loan books to our friends and family–I believe Nook is already offering this. We can borrow books from the library through our readers. We can hold our own libraries in the palm of our hands. We can converse with other bibliophiles on our social networks and book sites like and The future is here.

    Here’s what needs to happen. Brick & mortar stores need to embrace ebooks and find a way to market and sell them from their stores. There already is a way, actually, and I’m about to use it when my novel launches this fall.

    This is an exciting time to be an author. More than ever the playing field is leveled. Let’s get back to the indie bookstores. I’m all for it. But let me learn about new releases from bookstore clerks and browse there for the ebooks I’ll buy. Innovation in marketing and selling is what’s lacking here. Not Big Box Borders.

  105. dsweetphotos July 19, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    I have to say that as a 30-something person who grew up waiting for book sales at school and the weekly mandatory trip to the library, I have fallen victim to the “techno-ease” . I find myself reading my Ipad instead of an actual book. When I do venture into a book store, its rarely for a book, instead I look over the photography mags and then find myself wrist deep in a bag looking for the brownie I just purchased. While no machine can compete with a beautifully bound 1st edition, the fact that I can carry legions of books at once makes the option more attractive… just think, the day is soon coming when half price books will no longer buy books.

  106. allenavw July 19, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    I always feel this need to scramble and preserve book stores whenever I’m in them. I don’t care that it’s big and corporate. It has books and therefore I love it. I always stealthily smell the books when I’m holding them in the store. That new paper/book smell is unlike anything else. It calms me down and makes me feel like I’m moving at a slower pace in the world. Like the book store is just a few minutes slower than the outside world and I have forever to browse the rows and touch the books and discover something new. I judge them by their cover and their names and I grab a whole arm full. I never take those complimentary shopping bags. I like to have a haphazard arm load. It makes me feel more like a kid in a candy store. I always carry a list with me of what books I had to leave behind and I’ll get them the next time I’m in the store. I swear, if I wasn’t more careful with my money I could drop hundreds of dollars in the bookstore each and every time.

    Long live books!!

  107. Jaime July 19, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    I used to be strongly against ebooks…that is until I started to travel and realized I couldn’t pack my small library of books with me in a suitcase. I love my Kindle, but given the option I will always go with the paperback.

  108. mystichawker July 19, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    I have spent a good part of today commenting about this very thing with several writer friends, and a former literary agent. The publishing world is changing rapidly and we are going to be forced to change with it. I like roaming bookstores. I cherish my autographed first editions, I’m not sure it will be possible to personalize ebooks like that, and as an author I like signing books. Progress isn’t always for the best, hopefully there will still be places in the world for years to come where we who love the smell of paper can still come together from time to time and relish in our passion that the younger generation will not understand. In the mean time it we have to learn a whole new way of doing things. Farewell Borders, you will be missed.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

      One of my most prized possessions is an autographed first edition… of one of the Baby-Sitters Club books. When I was in 3rd grade, I met Ann M. Martin, and it was one of the highest moments of my young life.

      I hope progress works out for the best in this case. Sometimes I wonder if I sound like a monk arguing that the Gutenberg printing press will cause the downfall of literary culture. You know it happened. In their brown robes arguing that the people wouldn’t understand, that books with their “pages” divided the text up awkwardly ruining the flow… Maybe in 1,000 years someone will laugh at us for all this. And wonder what a Borders even was.

  109. evocativepower July 19, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    I love your writing style — how you vary your sentence length and structure. Often these days, I click on a blog post and just can’t bring myself to read through it. Not yours! It read like a dream. I’ve shared it on Facebook and Twitter, and “liked” it as well. High marks!

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

      Thanks! Sometimes I worry that my high school English teachers would glower while reading this. “You’re using passive voice.” “That’s not even a sentence — it doesn’t have a verb or a subject.” “Don’t end sentences with a preposition.” But, I think (grammar) rules were meant to be broken.

      • beautifulfirsts July 19, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

        “There are certain rules up with which I will not put.” -Winston Churchill

  110. Stevon July 19, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    I agree that the thought of losing our local Borders is a horrific idea that just might come true. Walking through the store is such a humbling experience that everyone should partake in. The rise of Ebooks is something that is not going to go away, only get worse as the years go on. I have thought about possibly opening a Borders-like store only, things will all be electronic. See, recently I saw at my local borders an “E station” where you sit in front of a computer and plug in your Ebook device. From there, one can download any book they wished. Why not just move all the bookshelves out and replace them with tables with desktop computers? Yes, it eliminates the isle walking but if a coffee shop is also joined in, at least you can walk through different tables and enjoy the coffee. All in all, I agree losing real bookstores is a horrible thing, but, instead of just standing still in shocked horror, why not work with the latest technology and try to create something that all can enjoy? A real brick building with a coffee shop that is filled with Ebooks.

    • Stevon July 19, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

      As far as leaving notes in the margins maybe that is something app developers or the big companies like amazon can look into. I have the kindle app for my iPhone, which is what I am using to type this, and I am able to make notes and even highlight things I find important.

  111. Mharvi July 19, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    I recently bought a Kindle and…well, quite frankly, I love it. I do miss the scent of a good book, running my hands across the pages and how the pages of well loved books get worn. However, I do not miss my aching shoulder from carting around half a dozen books with me. I am loving the fact that my itty bitty cottage will not become even more itty bitty because the books have begun to take over-they’ve already claimed enough space as it is. I absolutely dig the fact that everywhere I go I’ve got several hundred books with me…ready to read at a moments notice. That fact alone is sheer joy for me. As a result I have become a champion waiter…Doctor running late? Not a problem here. Long line at the DMV…woo hoo!
    Having said all that the demise of brick and mortar book stores has only gotten me thinking that my old dream of owning a used bookshop might just fly…There will always be a market for real books. And the pleasure of wandering the stacks is an activity that isn’t easily replaced.
    If you ever feel the need to discuss the latest great read come visit me at mharvi reads and I would sincerely love to chat with you…cappuccino on me;)

  112. digimichan July 19, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    Wow 😦 I’m so hearthbroken about borders closing. Now there won’t be any social interaction when going around surfing in the books store. Or how the check out clerk recommends a book. :< T^T I loved this article nice stuff.

  113. abbylorenz July 19, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    I am reading this blog from the last bookstore in North America.

  114. emjayandthem July 19, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    Wonderfully done and sadly .. I fear you’re right. While my inner techie embraces how neat the Kindle/Nook/iPad are … my super inner Librarian at heart still loves the smell of a library book, relishes the delight at finding out my “holds” are in … and has to exercise discipline if I stop at a bookstore during lunch hour … I .. can .. lose .. myself in there.

    I’m sad to see Borders go but am happy a few locally owned stores (and the big chain B&N) are still (so far) here in Grand Rapids.

    Great post! MJ

  115. wrap me in phyllo dough July 19, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    You’ve made some great points here. I’m an MA English student right now, and a future lit professor. As such, I’ve got to come to terms with the fact that someday, probably sooner than I’d like to imagine, I will be teaching a class to a room full of students with e-readers. As paper waste goes down and computer waste goes up, as rare books become more available and the sentimentalism/nostalgia that goes with their print versions dies out, we’ve all got some huge tradeoffs to make.

  116. okielicious July 19, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    Congratulations on your Freshly Pressed post! It was a pleasure to read your article, as well as the lively debate you sparked in the comments. Whether folks are pro-book or pro-Kindle, reading is our common denominator. I hope you’re as encouraged by that as I am.

    My book-shopping is limited to thrift stores and the Salvation Army — in part, because of our budget, but mostly due to the thrill of bumping into lovely old books (old friends, actually) and toting them home. Then I brew a fresh pot of coffee — Starbucks isn’t in the budget either — and settle in to get acquainted.

    I’m wondering if Kindle feels that “intimate?” (Can’t knock something I haven’t tried and I’m mindful of using the Internet to pose that question.) To each his own. I’m just thankful we have a choice — and that folks are still reading.

  117. foodietopography July 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    Great post. I’ve been forced to use Amazon for the last three years since I live in the middle of the Japanese countryside. The online shopping experience is nothing compare to browsing a nice bookstore.

    Being an expat, I often miss the food from back home, but I mostly miss bookstores.

    The slow death of bookstore is not something to rejoice.

  118. CultureChoc2010 July 19, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    I agree – though I do love my Kindle… I love the feel and smell of books more. I am a complete bibliophile and I think that this new technology will hamper my book acquisition efforts. Maybe people will get tired of technology and go back to the original. Who knows….

  119. db johnston July 19, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    The slow demise of the bookstore, and the probable, eventual demise of books themselves (real books: the tactile friends that share our homes), is sad indeed.

  120. fnfkathy July 19, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    First Congratulations! I’m a Newbie here. Loved this post and most of my writing has similar sentiments about the loss of the great way things used to be growing up ( I wonder if Barnes and Noble and the others realize that they will lose my usual $100.00 drop in their stores.Every time I go into a book store I can never leave without buying something or many things, for all the reasons you mention. It saddens me to think my granddaughter will possibly never have these experiences. It goes right along with playing red light, green light, flash light tag and Jax which have all been replaced by video games and facebook. Kudo’s to you for writing about it.

  121. The Nameless July 19, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    It is sad to hear he culture of reading real books are going to end. I’m ike you too. I like to go to the bookshops and spent hours browsing through books ad finally selecting one or none at all. The feeling of surrounded by shelves with books are more than enough for me. I still gonna buy the printed books and make my own library at my home. Reading books while lying down on the bed and turning and flipping the pages for godsaken how many times until they all wornout ready is just something only reader can understand.

  122. Matthew Wright July 19, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    Borders is leaving New Zealand too – though not, I think, because of e-books. They were bought by the main chain, Whitcoulls, some time ago; and that crashed and burned earlier this year. For a while it looked as if New Zealand was about to lose a third of its bookstores in one hit. That potential calamity has been averted – but Borders, alas, remains a casualty. Sigh. They were very good.

    On the other hand, there’s a window of opportunity for a savvy indie operator or two – and at least one I’m aware of has just rebuilt their store, about a third larger. Silver linings.

    Matthew Wright

  123. Kirsty Noffke July 19, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    I was just like you 12 months ago. Now I’m an e-reader convert. And, very sadly, I love it. I justified my betrayal of real books on my blog, available here if you’re interested


  124. Inspired Dzyne July 19, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    A life without real books that you can touch, smell and bend the pages in would be like a world without color to me.

  125. Evie July 19, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    I love my kindle, but I hate that I do. I travel so much and for such long periods that it makes the electronic device is too much of a convenience to refuse. But I’ll pick a print book over an e-one every time the choice is available. I still frequent my local libraries when at home, buy hard copies of the books I’ve read and loved, and linger in book stores. When I’m traveling and using my kindle I miss the visceral, tactile feel of real books. The smell. The weight. The brushing sound of pages turning.

    Someone very, very smart should figure out a way to combine old-school bookstore glory with e-reader convenience. Say, all the print books you can stand to touch and smell, but with an e-book purchase option at the counter, maybe the way drugstores do OTC medications with the little plastic card you take off the shelf to the pharmacist. We’d save our bookstore culture, and still be able to carry 35 books with us on our beach weekend.

  126. acleansurface July 19, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    I like to browse the new books at the library. What bothers me about book purchases is that the books lose most of their (monetary) value immediately. After spending over an hour or so sorting, driving, parking, carrying and attempting to sell some nice, very gently used books at a used bookseller…I walked away with about $4.00. Some books, lovely hardbacks were rejected outright. I understand the supply and demand aspect, but it makes me wonder if perhaps the ebooks are less expensive? I know that they take less space. It feels so wasteful to purchase or accept a purchased book if I cannot keep it and it has little or no resale value.

    • acleansurface July 19, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

      I just checked, and I see that they are less expensive. The library is the best deal, of course! I do give books away, if they have been given to me, but when I purchase them myself, I feel that I have not necessarily made a good investment, no matter how good the books may be. I simply do not have the storage space, and paper books can be very pricey. I generally only buy them for my children.

  127. Jess July 19, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    It seems here in Perth, Western Australia we only just got Borders and now it’s closing its doors already. One of the other big chain bookstores is also closing its doors which has left one big chain bookstore open. Who knows how long they’ll last.

    I completely agree though. There’s nothing like browsing the aisles of bookstores with coffee. It’s the only way I ever find something completely different!

    It’s incredibly sad. Not only are Kindles and online stores causing some of the problem I also think that a part of it stems from people simply not reading anymore. Whenever the subject of books crops up in conversation with my friends a lot of them respond with “I don’t read”. I think many of them would rather see a movie.

    • Maggie O'Toole July 19, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

      My Dad does a lot of hiring. One of the questions that he asks candidates is “What’s your favorite book?” If they respond with “I don’t read,” they’re hard pressed to get an invite to a second interview.

  128. thetravelingbookclub by Nora Vasconcelos July 19, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    I loved this post! The same as you I love wandering around in the bookstores.

  129. wordknit July 19, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    I’m not terribly sad that Borders is closing – I never liked the stores and rarely shopped there. But I also realize that I’m lucky – I live in San Francisco, where there are a number of small, independent stores for me to browse through and have those conversations you write so beautifully about. For some folks, Borders was the only actual bookstore in their community. I’m sad for them. Hopefully, instead of turning to Kindle, they will make the effort to find another store. I would like to think that there are enough of us who feel strongly enough about actual books to keep bookstores alive. And yes, Gene jounced the limb. I haven’t thought about that in years. I may go to my local bookstore tomorrow to see if they have a copy…

  130. JT July 19, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    Great Post Maggie, I love to read and I love to blog, if I had to choose….bring on the books, trying to talk to a kindle or loan out a digital copy seems like just another step in our downward trek, and quite frankly I won’t be happy being an isolationist.

  131. Just Imagine July 19, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    Absolutelly agree!!!! I miss the smell the feel the atmosphere of the old corner, bookstore 😦 makes me so sad to see it all disappearing!

  132. heartonastring July 19, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    For me it has always been my university library. But I can still understand how you feel. I mean if they did away with the archives section or the particular section I am in most of the time, in my university library I would be lost. My library is such a treasure to me. And there is a Starbucks right beside it. So it is so easy to go download an academic article or book and read while sipping my coffee. Perhaps the university libraries are the last vestige of the old world with shelves filled with leather bound books, books in boxes because they are so old, and the lovely ones they won’t even allow out of the library because they are so special. I do understand and hope perhaps that you will consider a university library near you to replace this loss of the book store.

  133. Auspicious Wedding Dates July 19, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

    Maybe when all the bookshops are obliterated, Amazon will start their chainshawp. Just maybe.

  134. thedarkness54 July 19, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    I know what you mean about the rise of the “e-book”! I’ve seen a few different display units (I loath the terms used to describe them!), and none of them impress me as being very sturdy or terribly interesting. I know I could probably fit O’Brian’s entire “Aubrey/Maturtin” series onto a single display unit, but it wouldn’t be the same. I couldn’t feel the resistance of the page as I turned it with my fingers, I couldn’t throw a ticket stub for the train I took to Chicago into it as a reminder of the day I wandered the Printer’s Row literary event looking for it. Most of all, I couldn’t look at, mixed in among all the other titles I have, and draw inspiration from it’s solid, humble presence. I also miss bookstores. To me, time spent in a good book store is time well spent. One of my favorite spots in this world was Kenny’s on High Street in Galway. A three-floored storefront that was a modern Cave of Wonders, with everything from modern novels to diaries from the 1700’s, and all of it setting almost next to each other. Like a lot of book sellers, they found their market better (and their operating costs cheaper) on the Internet, so they closed their ‘brick-and-mortar’ store and went virtual. Finding out I can’t go there anymore and stumble onto some old and/or odd tract was one of the saddest days of my life.

  135. Charity July 19, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    Thoughtful post and pleasant writing. 🙂

    On the questions of the day: huh?, No!, Yes!!, huh?, vampires are definitely sparkle-free

    On ebooks: I understand your feelings on the subject. Until last fall, when I snagged a kindle in order to save heaps of money on doctoral textbooks (the hard copies cost more than twice the digital price. Maybe they are made out of gold…), I was as anti-ebook as they come. It didn’t take me long, however, to find a lot of my old pleasures in the kindle experience and some new ones, as well. I still can highlight, make notes, and even lend. I can browse millions of titles, read previews, and download thousands of free books. I find myself both reading more and in a wider variety. Cost used to keep me from reading some classical works or large selections from ancient writers that I had my eye on, but the majority of these I can now own for free. I can search, compare, contrast and save large quotations in evernote. It has even transformed the way in which I enjoy some of my old favorites, making them more accessible and transportable than ever. I love knowing that some lifelong buddies (that used to be too heavy and numerous to take places) are cozily tucked in my kindle and able to talk at any moment and in any place. Though I will be sorry to see the death of the big bookstore, it is comforting to know that the power of reading transcends forms and means. The real power of books is not their medium, but their words– and the ideas, emotions, and experiences they convey.

  136. cookiegeisha July 19, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    This made me so sad! I can remember being a teenager and going to Borders to hang out because they were open until 10. Just last week I got into a long conversation with a cashier at the store about Game of Thrones when I went to buy the new GRRM book. I really think I convinced her to read the books, too, and clarified some details that HBO just didn’t have time to cover.

    Harry not dying made the entire ending so predictable. I knew she didn’t have the strength to kill him off. Also that epilogue made me wish they had all died.

    I compare the end of The Giver to the end of The Road. Even if you find a nice family, how do you recover from the end of the world, even if it’s jut your own small world.

    Diskworld is ever changing, just like everything in the books. You think you’ve got it all mapped out then you discover a whole new place.

    I believe there were maybe once upon a time vampires that sparkled, but then natural selection took over and Anne Rice’s vampires ate them.

  137. scribblechic July 19, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

    For all the convenience of my Kindle, I still reach for the reassuring weight of a book. As local book stores close I find myself mourning the experience of searching familiar shelves for a new treasure and visiting with employees that witnessed my children’s growth from infants to independent readers. Beautiful post, important subject.

  138. pattyabr July 20, 2011 at 12:17 am #

    Isn’t it funny that the big box bookstores may go under and what may be left are the little Mom and Pop used book stores? Even the libraries are suffering in places in terms of hours of operation. In my county the library is now closed on Mondays and it is full of computers.

  139. jessicaber July 20, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    Interesting that Borders is not the only one.

  140. jessicaber July 20, 2011 at 12:26 am #

    Actually, collecting books is a nice way to establish a cozy home, fun and cool people like anthropoligists like to do it.

  141. sheila7697 July 20, 2011 at 12:33 am #

    Enjoyed your post, congratulations on FP. Oddly enough, last night I wrote a post about how wonderful I think Amazon and Kindle options are. Amazon makes about 16,000 titles free to Kindle users, everything from famous classics to obscure works about every subject under the sun.
    There are also links to library sources and Internet archive sources, all great resources and all provided at no charge by Amazon.
    I appreciate your points, as I noted in my post that I will always have a place in my life foe “real” books as well as digital. I don’t like neighborhood stores to die out. On the other hand, the digital age is here, and there are some wonderful benefits from technology. Like most issues in life, there are many valid points on both sides, and benefits to all for supporting brick and mortar stores as well as digital storefronts.


  142. Sapir Amichai July 20, 2011 at 1:03 am #

    Thank you for this lovely article…it’s a topic that touches a very fundamental nerve with me, like a sore spot. I have to say the advent of the kindle, nook, is simply distressing. What does it portend for avid readers who love the smell and feel of a book in their hands? What about us folk who enjoy real life in real time, who live in libraries and used bookstores now steadily on the decline? I understand why print journalism is dying; the internet is faster and in most cases access is free. You can get everything at your fingertips today. But books?? If the day ever comes when books are truly discarded, it will be a sad day for humanity indeed. I hope to write a post to this effect soon…until then feel free to take a look at my new blog and let me know what you would like to see up there; I’d love to return the favor!

  143. williamw60640 July 20, 2011 at 1:16 am #

    I’m with you – maybe it’s wishful thinking, but the old-fashioned book will never be fully replaced. The experience of holding a book and taking it all in, using more than one of our five senses, cannot be fully duplicated by ebooks.
    I recently found several small books of poems and fiction which have been in my family for just over 100 years. To see the hand-written names and dates in the front of these books gave me such a rush. The beautiful penmanship, apparently written with a fountain pen, was fascinating. I’m sorry, but an ebook will never become an heirloom.
    Please keep on writing – I think we see things in very similar ways. Be well.

  144. AppAndrew July 20, 2011 at 1:34 am #

    This post makes a VERY good point out of all the iBooks and eBooks and oBooks and whydon’twejuststickwithnormalbooksBooks nonsense. As far as convenience and efficiency go, electronic books surpass regular ones, but the nostalgia and the warm, fuzzy feeling that actually buying a real book caused will never be replaced. It’s quite sad. I actually posted something about this on my own blog a while ago, if you want to, check it out!
    Thanks, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  145. rachel185 July 20, 2011 at 1:41 am #

    Couldn’t agree more! There is nothing I love more than getting myself lost amongst the shelves in a book shop. Shakespeare & Co on the Left Bank in Paris (in the photograph) is one of my favourite bookshops of all time. A must for anyone who finds themself in the area! Great post.

  146. nikisean July 20, 2011 at 2:06 am #

    I agree with your feelings of loss. At 37, I have seen the evolution of vinyl records and 8 tracks to cassette tapes, CDs and now MP3s and iPods. I love a good book for all it encompasses; sittting under a blanket and and anticipating the next page, knowing it’s there with my forefinger and thumb on it impatiently waiting to turn it and see what happens next. I still would rather read on paper than on a bright screen any day, but I am excited to also see what is next!
    What a time we live in.

  147. adavidsonfisher19 July 20, 2011 at 3:24 am #

    I absolutely agree with you. I love books! I love the smell, the feel and the turning of pages. One of my favorite past times is browsing any books store I can find. Sometimes I would go in just for that new book smell. Reading for me is not just the words on the page, it is also the whole tactile experience. My fondest wish is to have my own personal library in my house. It is something that is actually in the works now. As time goes on it becomes more precious to me to have because I do fear that one day, a real book will not exist any longer.
    The end of books stores is an end to an era.

  148. ameerrante July 20, 2011 at 3:30 am #

    I would have been so upset if Harry had died. I was angry enough that she killed off


    A twin and set of parents. To lose a twin or both your parents = terrible.

  149. citronsaft July 20, 2011 at 3:30 am #

    I love bookshops, so I’ll definitely miss them. However, since I’ve never lived in a big city, I have always had trouble finding the books I like, as opposed to just a few best-selling titles. So really, I’ve always had to look for my books in other places than my local bookshop.

    Though I like e-book readers like the Kindle (I’m crazy about reading in any form, for instance free classics from Project Gutenberg and similar sites), I’ll always prefer ‘real’ books and I’m concerned that some day we might not be able to get them anymore. I hope that day never comes.

  150. Mèo Lười Việt July 20, 2011 at 4:53 am #

    Very emotional writing… and very true. 🙂

  151. bonkasaurus July 20, 2011 at 5:12 am #

    Great Post! Im happy to see a post with actual text and not just a collage of picture get freshly pressed.

    The closing of Borders is definitely a sign that books are becoming obsolete. Which does sadden me because, even though I barely read real literature, I spent alot of time in Barnes and Nobles and Borders, doing homework and studying. There is something about being surrounded by books that makes a person feel smarter…..

    I like to dabble through the aisles too, I hate having to “search” specifically for what i want on Amazon, how about i just see what they have.

    -Bianca at

  152. samhenry July 20, 2011 at 5:27 am #

    Hi there.

    Could not agree more. I, too, wrote a blogpost about it. Think of all the jobs at Borders such as the people in the publishing industry.


  153. Voula ( July 20, 2011 at 5:29 am #

    I’m in agreement with you. One of my favorite things to do on the weekends used to be to go to my local Borders (which, for many people is an oxymoron, right? But I digress…) every Sunday morning, buy a coffee, and browse through endless books until I found the one I liked. It saddens me that this pastime will no longer be available. In a way it’s as if technology is killing the art of reading.

    A friend bought me a Kindle as a gift last year and, although very convenient for carrying a large library of reading material anywhere you go, it’s just not the same experience as reading an actual book. The act of reading become less important somehow.

  154. Agas Treva July 20, 2011 at 5:29 am #

    book is a source of knowledge

  155. Karen R Quick July 20, 2011 at 5:48 am #

    Thank you for this. I actually shed a tear when I read that Borders was closing up the last of their stores even though I’ve always had better access to Barnes & Noble anyway (I know … they’re next …). Wonderfully well written and I look forward to reading more.

    Speaking of reading:

    Of COURSE he jounced the limb (Pity, too. Finny was one of my first literary crushes. Yes, I crush on fictional characters. Even at the ripe old age of 35.).
    He definitely should be dead already.
    And a wonderful family at that.
    I tend to flipflop between a turtle and giant neon frisbee.
    One of the most ridiculous concepts ever.

  156. sally July 20, 2011 at 6:17 am #

    Reading books is good way to improve our qualities and get more knowledge.We should read everyday, and go to library to choose books which are good to us.

  157. byroisinhealy July 20, 2011 at 6:40 am #

    @Maggiecakes: Great post. Hit the nail on the head when you described the tactile experience of selecting book. It seems illogical but I am the same; but how can you not judge a book by its cover? The blurb doesn’t tell you everything. You have to hold it, look at the images to guess what the story is about. How many people when shopping for clothes stroke the fabric, assessing the manufacturing, the weight, before deciding whether something is worth trying on? I know I do it and I’ve seen countless others do the same. This has to be said for books too. You look at what the pages look like, whether its dog-eared or pristine. Ina library I look at the docket on the inside, to s the stamps saying when it was last taken out.

    But technology is unavoidable and fantastic. Nobody can argue that. However I think there are too many booklovers out there for anyone to write an obituary for paperbacks and bookstores in there entirety just yet.

  158. whatsaysyou July 20, 2011 at 6:52 am #

    I have grown up with the bookshop culture as long as I could remember. With the rise of ebooks and Amazon, I feel that they are just not the same with the physical bookshop culture most people have grown up with or known. I just hope that the bookshop culture not just stays but also adapt amidst the rise of ebooks and online book retailers.

  159. Liana Giorgi July 20, 2011 at 7:14 am #

    Maggie, you are so right that boostores have a magic Amazon will never capture and that this has to do with the way they stimulate the senses: touch, smell, see … But it is for for this that I do not agree that bookstores will go under. They might now be facing a shaky time due to e-publishing (like the publishing industry more generally), but that is not their end. As for Harry Potter dying — no, I am glad he is alive. But the last film of the series, unlike the book, was no good.

  160. cabinet stew July 20, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    Congrats on being pressed.
    I really liked your post and totally agreed with it – but wow what a diverse crowd of comments and some of the opposing opinions are convincing. I don’t own a kindle but would like to. Unfortunately I am not at a place in my life where I have any time to read other than a couple of pages before bed. (same book has lasted me for months) But someday…
    With the borders closing, Boston is about to become a 1 bookstore city!! One last Barnes and Noble available across town. Imagine in a city of how many people and colleges!!
    And in a city bookstores are an important lunchtime activity for many looking to escape the office for a while. What about the magazine selection that is so extensive? who will sell those? Even the suburbs will be sparse of bookstores.
    I think e-books will rise but right along side it, perhaps a small renaissance of independent bookstores too. The kind where I can have a cup of coffee and discover the book next to the one I came into purchase (not always the same as the “if you liked this you will like….”)
    or better yet browse the “books about the local area” shelf or “books by local authors” or what about browsing the recipes in a new cookbook to determine if you will use enough of them to warrant buying it? ….sigh…

  161. koocs July 20, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    I share your views exactly. I am forever lifting books from the shelves and sometimes forgetfully wander around the store with them. By the time I notice, I have forgotten where they belonged- apologies Waterstones staff.
    My girlfriends and I have a weekly meeting in the coffee shop of our local book-store- and indulge in a caramel slice washed down by a latte. I would hate having to re-locate to a Starbucks or Costa- it wouldn’t be the same. At least we can pretend we are intellects if we are surrounded by literature lol!

  162. transplantednorth July 20, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    amen! Call me old school, but I like to touch a book, feel the texture of its pages, sneek a peek of the cover of what other people are reading on trains and planes, and even smell the pages. That’s why I wrote my anti-Kindle post in my blog:

  163. matthewhyde July 20, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    Great post, and thought-provoking – it inspired a post of my own. Fantastic blog!

  164. oneawkwardyear July 20, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    Hello! I just stumbled across your blog and love this post. I work in publishing and am a deep lover of books so I, too, mourn the demise of the bookstore. I’ve been tempted by e-readers but haven’t yet made the plunge. I love the feel of books too much! I know Borders is “big-box” but it was the only bookstore in/around the small town I grew up in, so have fond memories of it as my local. My parents use to bring us there and buy us each a book in reward for good report cards. What a treat! Great post and looking forward to checking out more of your writing!

    Oh, and it would have been more poignant had Harry died. But I think I ultimately liked how she handled the resolution of how he could live if Voldemort died. But don’t even get me started on the epilogue!

  165. lovphotography July 20, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    Wonderful post, I was thinking the exact same thing when I heard the news that borders was closing…and while reading your post couldn’t help but think of the movie You’ve Got Mail.

    Call me old fashion but like you I too like the feeling of holding an actual book and turning the pages and being able to have random conversations with strangers which seems to happen a whole lot more easily within a book store…sob, sob.

    Any how thank you for sharing this.

  166. dweebcentric July 20, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    it’s been said that the increasing popularity of ebooks is what did bookstores in, even the big chains, but i think it was pricing. the internet just gave us plenty of cheaper options.

    as for the love of browsing walls of books… let’s not forget public libraries.

  167. Amber July 20, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    I received a Kindle as a college graduation gift. I find it useful, but I prefer hard copies and real bookshops. Sure, it’s great for travel or an avid reader’s cheap fix. So I use it moderately often.

    Still, I worry about the quality of books since e-publishing became so easy. Sure, it has allowed those of us without a heap of money to dream of being successful writers someday. However, in my experience (and I’ll admit that I’ve had my Kindle for but a few months), I have found that many e-Books have dozens more errors and inconsistencies.

    But my largest concern, expressed quite eloquently by your post, of course – is the lack of accompanying conversation. Some may cry, “But online we have forums! That’s discussion.” True. Forums sometimes even allow more diversified discussion, connecting people worldwide. But forums are like sterile boxes into which people toss their comments and criticisms without regard for one another. After all, the other users are just a bunch of pixels on a dimly lit screen, not human beings. And if you say anything truly naughty or hurtful, you can just delete it, wash your hands of the embarrassment, and nobody need know.

    P.S. – Vampires don’t and shouldn’t sparkle. It’s ludicrous.

  168. gaycarboys July 20, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    There is something about a bookshop. The smell and feel just can’t be beat. But, for too long books especially in Australia, have been way too expensive and the book shops haven’t kept up. Now they are all going broke. I’d like to feel sad for them but I’d rather have cheap books. The I asked myself how long it is since I bought something other than a magazine, and it is a very long while, and even longer since I actually read a paper book.

  169. fashionelle July 20, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    i’m currently having the same exact problem! my dad told me to get “books” for my ipad so we’d spend less money on the books but it feels so different. i can’t read a book on a computer, it sucks. i can’t make notes to myself on the pages if its something i’m reading for school. great post though, i really enjoyed it

  170. 48colorrainbow July 20, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    My family is hard to buy gifts for, but I could always find things they would like at Borders.

  171. sittingpugs July 20, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Because I like bookstores – large and small. I like browsing. I like wandering the aisles and touching the books. Picking them up and feeling their weight. I like to pick an edition based on the way the pages feel in my hand. For me, buying a book is a tactile experience.

    I know just what you mean. I also like being able to throw a book onto a couch, or the floor, or across the room and know it won’t break.

  172. inkspeare July 20, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    I feel the same way. I totally agree with you – it is a sensory experience and more. But maybe, we will see a resurrection of the small town tiny bookstore, catering to those people that feel just as we feel – I hope that happens. Even if it is just handling antique volumes and limited book treats.

  173. ipad 2 free July 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Great review! You actually touched some great news in this post. I came across it by using Yahoo and I’ve got to admit that I already subscribed to the RSS, it’s very great 🙂

  174. fiercelyfresh July 20, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    Just like vinyl is making a comeback, I think e-readers are going to realize that they are missing a richness that only adds to the total experience of truly reading a book.

  175. mamanne July 20, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    Oh, I agree – I was so sad just a couple days ago when I heard our local Borders would be closing. To touch a book is…. a wonderful thing. I own stacks of books and would never part with them, and I love borrowing from the library as well. I worry that our libraries will become places that you just “borrow” the ebook things.(no, don’t have one, don’t want one.)

    What I really want to say here tho is to reply to those who think it’s better – or at least as good – to “discuss” a book on an online site as to talk face to face to a real human being about that book… I say “no way”. I think we are losing something when we don’t have “real” interaction, be it a human or a book made of paper.

  176. Brittany July 20, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

    I have had this same conversation with friends. As much as I would enjoy the convenience of carrying hundred of books with me in an e-reader, I haven’t bought one for the simple fact that it doesn’t feel or smell or look or read as wonderful as a worn out copy. Love any book for a day and it begins to wear. Wear out an e-reader? You have to replace it. I am hoping and praying the end isn’t as near as we fear…

  177. drawnoutdoors July 20, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

    Thanks for this post, it is oh so true! I am an absolute self confessed bookaholic and while I love my small independent bookseller, if the big guys can’t survive, is there hope for the little guys??? I’m so sad to think that maybe my grandchildren won’t have the joy of holding and feeling and turning pages as the stories unfold (my kids are 1 and 3, so that’s a long way off!) I take my kids to the library weekly now, and have just blogged about it here
    I will miss my local Borders, as they have closed down here in Australia too, and my coffee while browsing a stack of books working out which ones to buy.

  178. tootmyownhorn July 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    I enjoyed your reflections, but I don’t entirely agree that bookshop culture will crumble. I would argue that individuals who read will seek those interactions through different scenarios. Maybe they’ll ask someone what they’re reading even if it’s an eBook, or they’ll engage with friends and acquaintances in making recommendations. My full response can be found here:

    And you can find what I’m reading, have read, or plan to read here:

    Lastly Bertrand Russell remarked that “There are two motives to read a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.”

  179. bustmybuttons July 21, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more! I am heading to London in a month for the semester, and so many people are attempting to get me to buy a Nook or a Kindle. Um NO! I completely agree. How will anybody learn about new authors or make new friends if everything is just a button-click away? There are so many authors that I learned about through suggestions from someone in the bookstore. Although I must say you forgot to mention one of the best things about physical books, the way they SMELL 🙂 Maybe I’m a little creepy but I love smelling books 😛

  180. emfilmgeek July 21, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    Your post got me thinking… Discover The Gift teaches to see the positive in the seemingly negative, and … here’s an idea… Maybe the next step can be creating discussion boards that are inherently attached to ebooks, y’know– like a review page but to the next level… That documentary is really fantastic, it makes lots of great points about the life experience.. Have you heard of it?

  181. thevuefromthebridge July 21, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    The demise of the big box bookstores was inevitable the day the first eReader was sold. I am saddened to see my Borders disappear and for the human tragedy of all of the 11,000 employees who are now unemployed. I am hoping that with the demise of these behemoths that the small local bookstore will rise from the ashes. True lovers of books want to roam dusty aisles, touch actual books, feel an author’s creation in their hands. eReaders are now here, but they are cold and mechanical. And yes I will eventually get one.

  182. Bedlam And Delirium July 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    I live in Manhattan and the was a huge Borders on 57st and Park Ave, and for the longest time I used to love an idea to have this huge mega book store, where you can come in with your friends and brows through books and flip through magazines over a cup of joe, but now it’s windows are empty and it’s walls are bare and nothing but a “for rent” sign in a window is what’s left from this huge monster of memories, books, music and long days spent there while ditching class. How sad it is to once be there and now to gone, for a left over carcass in the mega streets on this concrete maze, for only hope and faded smell of coffee to remind us and to dream that one day it will be something comforting once again.
    – Lady Anna

  183. Dian Wijayanti July 22, 2011 at 12:54 am #

    True! Sad, indeed. I love the inventions of e-books, and I’ve been reading e-books for quite some time. I remember watching the whole Twilight series all via e-book, but there are still some things that e-books are lacking compared to the hard copied-books. I had their weirdo ritual every time I buy new books (or new used books!). I’d usually open the book, write my name on the very first page, as beautiful as I could, and I would feel–really feel the paper. The thickness and the rough surface of it, and I have to admit, I truly love feeling the paper alone. Then I’d smell it (haha, sorry I hope I didn’t scare you! But I really love these moments when it comes to book that I’m going to read) before I finally read the book, and enjoy every second that I spend reading the book. I got plenty e-books stored in my laptop, but I still do, prefer hard copied books to e-books!

  184. Slightly Bonkers July 22, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    I don’t think the ebook will ever win over the standard book however I would like to see more ebooks in schools, Its not fair the amount of books these kids have to carry in there school bag everyday… in and out. There poor backs can’t carry that weight. Great post and congrats on FP!

  185. jessicaber July 22, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    I used to work at Borders in Phoenix. Was the Manhattan Borders the one that was three stories tall? There is a Never Ending Story movie that starts out like what you are talking about an big tall empty book store and a man is saying, “No it used to be here. I swear”. I used to watch that movie when I was breast feeding my son Ezra who is 6 years old now and all grown up and off at summer camp today. You should watch it any way you will see what I mean.

  186. wumpyppancakes July 22, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    I discovered you blog post link on Before discovering it, I wrote a blog entry on July 20…about Borders going out of business because I was a big fan of them! I was one of their best customers (I brought books from them at the store AND online all the time)….here’s my link if anyone wants to read it:

    Our posts are similar…and I was deeply sadden by the end of Borders. As I realized on a business sense why it sunk, it doesn’t mean that I am not devastated by its sinking. I love that bookstore so much, and I shopped at it so much that most of my book collection is from Borders.

    However, this goes beyond Borders and a lot of us have expressed it. In my response to the end of Borders, what will happen to books? How long will it take for them to be scarce if we, the customers, don’t continue to demand the supply of our need and wants. Although I admit that e-readers are neat and I would like one…although I have shopped on and others used bookstore places from…if the e-readers take over, part of our Western culture will be lost. Our western culture prides itself on literacy even though literacy has always been dropping the past couple of years. However, if we take away print form. it gives other people limited options of purchasing “the book.” And a e-reader is just that—it’s a vector or a medium in which you can “download a “electronic book.” And yes, they can be useful for convenience or saving space; however. they won’t even replace the guarantee or the security of an actual book because books can last longer than electronic devices. They can last, if made well, hundreds or even thousands of years.

    I am very afraid that if we let e-readers take over…then folks in the publishing industry will eventually get rid of books. HOWEVER, getting rid of bookstores and books is one of the worst ideas ever. Technology and such can’t even replace how you advertise a book. I must admit that new books that I learn about are actually from the magazines that I read. So, you see, we readers who support books in their paperback and hardback forms must all speak out and create a movement that print books never go out of print. As customers we demand that bookstores AND libraries remain where they are at. These are places that people USE. This isn’t about money…this is about KNOWLEDGE. If we all continue to protest that getting rid of bookstores and libraries is unacceptable…that our tax dollars shouldn’t be used for BS…that it should be use for our literate culture to continue to open the door for people to enhance their experiences…that will keep up from ultimately succumbing to books being nothing more than on the “hub” of accessing them on an electronic device!


  187. Katie July 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    There’s no way vampires sparkle.

    I have the same nostalgic feelings about books. I’ve always bought, instead of borrowed from the libraries, because I like to mark them, underline quotes, ask questions. I like feeling as if the book, and the experience of reading it, are mine.

    I grew up in Ann Arbor, where Borders started, so when I heard it was officially closing, I did feel like I was losing a local bookstore. What saddens me more, is that I know it won’t be replaced by another bookstore, because the way we purchase texts is changing and we won’t be able to go back to the old way. Maybe someday I’ll join the bandwagon, but as of right now, I’m holding on tight to my local bookstores and the bookshelves in my home!

  188. Ania Ahlborn July 22, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    The REAL reason Borders went under:

    Please stop blaming ebooks.

  189. rebecca July 22, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    I agree with your post 100%! I hate ebooks and love the experience of buying and reading a physical book. I will never read ebooks because I can’t stand reading from an electronic device, not turning the pages, etc. As a child going to the bookstore was one of my favorite things and I hope there are still bookstores around to take my future children to someday. Our Borders closed a couple months ago and I still miss it. Luckily we have a B&N nearby and I really hope that stays. 😦 I refuse to buy from Amazon and if B&N doesn’t have something I order it from the B&N website. I want to support a company that has physical bookstores.

  190. jessicaber July 22, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    I have to tell you that it is refreshing to hear you say that people are blaming ebooks rather than something less harmless like each other or God or religion or the government, but I will check out your link.

  191. One Hundred & 80 Days July 23, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    I just want to cry. Our Borders is closing as well, in fact we are off today to see if we can get some bargains. Although we still have a Barnes and Noble and a handful of independent bookstores. We have one of the best children’s bookstores ever!

    I agree completely about the loss of books, no sharing, no talking, no sand in between the pages during summer vacation. I’ve even seen a few get dropped in the lake and laid out on the boat deck to dry. Try that with your e-reader.

    I recently wrote a post about e-books vs. real books. Take a peek if you’ve got the time.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts, they echo those of many book lovers out there.

  192. princesayasmine July 23, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    I completely agree with you. I was so upset when my local borders closed down. It was such an enjoyable experience to buy a book and the staff were so friendly, always giving good recomendations. I read my first e-book this week and it just isn’t the same thing. I can’t smell the ink and paper 😦

  193. stackedbookshop July 24, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

    This is an interesting conversation and one that seems to have always circulated. Rather than assuming it is the demise of any culture or product, I would assume that we are only witnessing the death of certain players (major ones who are therefore in the media light) in the industry who are unable to reposition their selling as technology has changed communication and the distribution of literature.

    Bookshop culture is found in the stores which have dedicated sales people interested ultimately in the sharing of good literature. They are the ones that suggest interesting literature that I would never find on my own, they are discovering independent publishing companies and combine new with used. They have special curated tables by authors and artists. There are events that invite the community to participate (and not just attend).

    Borders and other corporate chains are ultimately interested in the selling of books as a commodity. I love the idea of Amazon, Abebooks, Alibris, etc. taking over as the corporate bookstore because you get better prices, more selection and an international audience. The bookstore giant may as well be online competing for the best prices because they do not offer bookshop culture.

    Nice article to read:

    Thanks for your blog!

  194. TheBudgetMaven July 25, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    The smell of brewing coffee, an instrumental version of Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody” playing overhead, and a sea of stories and ideas to be read. You just can’t get that same experience in front of your computer. I’m glad I’m not the only one who prefers the musty smell of a library book to my Mac. Enjoyed this post!

    • Maggie O'Toole July 31, 2011 at 10:54 am #

      Where I live, one of the radio stations does a “coffee shop” set on weekend mornings during which they play all that slow, instrumental, few-year old pop that you’re likely to hear in bookstores and I love it. There’s something so relaxing about that type of music. (Especially when accompanied by books and coffee — two things that I try to always keep nearby!)

  195. dandylion28 July 26, 2011 at 3:04 am #

    I’m actually glad to hear you say something like this,most people are so excited about e-books and are calling them “brilliant” and other derivatives of great, but I must say that I disagree. I love the feel and smell of books and I can spent hours just browsing through a bookstore or library. I would never give up reading an ACTUAL book just to be more modern or whatever.
    Nice post

  196. sharingclosetspace July 26, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    I, too, am holding out on the Kindle purchase. For me, it’s about the smell of a book. I love the fresh-ink of a book from borders, and I love the dusty pages of a used Amazon purchase. And, like many posters above, I have also been thinking a lot about You’ve Got Mail and Fox Books in the past few weeks. Oh, and tomorrow I plan to use my last Waldenbooks gift card 🙂

    • Maggie O'Toole July 31, 2011 at 10:49 am #

      Oh, I forgot about the gift cards! I think my sister might still have one, I’ll have to see if she does and find out if we can still use it.

  197. Golden Bookwyrm July 29, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    Your picture of Giles and his quote are absolutely perfect for this situation! When the Beloved Husband and I discuss the whole “Real Book vs. ebook” thing, that’s always the quote I think of (and quite often, I use it).

    I, too, will miss being able to browse the shelves and stumbling across new books that I never would have known existed save by glancing over them accidentally. I’ve found many of my favorite books that way!

    • Maggie O'Toole July 31, 2011 at 10:44 am #

      I love Buffy’s discussion of books vs. eBooks. Especially with the demon in the book that’s released into the internet. I’m glad to find other Buffy/book lovers!

  198. admin July 30, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    I enjoyed reading this post… Great report.

  199. The Exiled Muse July 31, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    I will miss Borders. Whenever I went there, browsing new and old books always left me with a feeling that I could stay there all day.

  200. andrealiesel July 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

    I love this post, for me it articulates everything I feel about books versus e-books. I can’t imagine reading my Raymond Chandlers or Agatha Christies on a Kindle. Books as old as those should be read I think via volumes around the same age. I have almost all of Christie’s published work and only three or four of my editions were published this century. I even get excited if I go into a second hand book store and manage to find an older edition of her work than I already have. It’s something about the smell and knowing that this one book has seen so much more than I can imagine, could have been anywhere and belonged to anybody! It’s relieving to know that i’m not alone in loving old book smell, thanks for the post!

  201. b00kreader July 31, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    I have to fully agree with you on this one, I too am a sucker for “smelly” books. I was a permanent fixture at the local libraries, and once I could drive the local book stores (which often included Borders). I love reading, but the idea of reading a full novel on a screen makes me cringe. I know it takes up less space, probably is cheaper, and it uses less wood for paper, but give me a book any day. I want to hold it, hear how the pages sounds as I work my way into the story, and I want someone to ask me what I’m reading and if it’s any good (a little narcissistic I suppose but where I grew up being one of only a few readers carrying the book was a badge of honer). Long live books, I know I’ll never give mine up.

  202. Katie (Blog from Bookstores) August 1, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    I totally agree with you. I will never get sick of the romance involved with roaming the aisles of a bookstore and spending hours on end flipping through and smelling the pages of books pulled from the shelves. Nothing on the Internet will ever beat that for me.

  203. thevuefromthebridge August 1, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

    I’ve never thought of Barnes & Noble or Borders as the type of bookstore that I like to roam. To me they are highly commercial enterprises devoid of the feel and mystique that independent bookstores and used bookstores have. As a young man growing up in Boston I used to love to go through the stacks in the bookstores looking for that one gem hidden on the shelves. The people who worked in those stores were knowledgeable and interesting and often they were the owners. I know that there will be plenty of opportunity for new and emerging authors with eBooks and self-published books, but I do long for the dimly lit bookstore at the foot of Beacon Hill where the literary treasures lay.

    • Maggie O'Toole August 2, 2011 at 11:26 am #

      They are very commercial and independent bookstores were/are definitely better. Sadly, I’m young enough that big box bookstores are the majority of bookstores that I’ve ever known. But, I am lucky enough to have grown up in a town (Chagrin Falls, OH) with a local bookstore Fireside Book Shop, that now that I link to it, I realize has a terrible website. Bookshops with hidden shelves and twisty staircases are far superior to the giant, halogen-lit big box stores. But, even the big ones are better than no book stores at all.

  204. jessicaber August 1, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    When I lived in Phoenix, AZ (1999-2002) the kind of book stores that you are talking about were considered antiquitous book stores and they were next to the Indonesian man selling rugs, and in between the antique stores, junk shops, pizza parlors, Chinese restaurants, and burrrito shops, etc. I guess Borders completely lost you on what they were trying to promote. I worked there for the summer of 1999 in a brand new Borders Store in a new huge stucco building made just for borders and they put huge comfy chairs in and a cafe and they told us that people were welcome to be there all afternoon and to have drinks in their hands. Where I live now in Vermont, the closest Borders was in Burlington which is Vermont’s only real city and is an hour from me. The local book stores here in Montpelier, Vermont where I live are very snobby. They would never want me there all afternoon reading their books; unpaid for with a sticky soda in my hand. And I am lucky if they are open until 6pm, not 11pm which was a nice healthy late night activity, something that I am guessing WordPress users would agree with, people who like to read and write.

    • Maggie O'Toole August 2, 2011 at 5:30 am #

      Hi Jessica! Yes, it is amazing how much book store culture changes from one place to another. But, I guess VT and AZ are almost as different culturally as you can get in America. (Actually, there’s always UT, so maybe not.) I went to VT to visit a friend last year, ans was surprised to see how far apart things were. It’s a small state, but so rural. I would guess that from where she lives, it would probably take at least 1/2 hour to get to a bookstore. If we had done the drive, only to get kicked out at six, I would have been disappointed.

      Also, late night reading. Awesome, but dangerous. That and Law and Order reruns are the two things that keep me up way past my bed time every night.

  205. jessicaber August 2, 2011 at 8:53 am #

    Why do you say that late night reading is dangerous? Although, once when I was 19 I fell asleep at a dude ranch that I was working at; in my room and I was using a sleeping bag for a comforter and you know I was young so I smoked back then and I woke up and the cigarette that I was smoking was just a butt and it had burnt a hole in my sleeping bag. Luckily the bag was flame retardant so it was just kind of melted around like this 2 inch sphere and then there was the white stuffing in the middle. Lol, kind of a cowboyish antidote about a Dude ranch out west, but true.

    • Maggie O'Toole August 2, 2011 at 11:20 am #

      I meant dangerous to my lack of sleep and sanity, not physically dangerous. When I was a teenager, I’d often read until 3 in the morning, and then dearly regret it the next day. (Remember Harry Potter midnight releases?)

      But, after you’re example, I guess it could be physically dangerous, too. Did you get to sing the theme song from Hey Dude?

  206. jessicaber August 2, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    I hope that you enjoyed Vermont. My uncle created Cape Cod Chips, Late July Crackers and Chatham Village Croutons. I like that people fill the state capitol where I live (Montpelier, Vermont) in the autumn to see the fall foliage.

    • Maggie O'Toole August 2, 2011 at 11:21 am #

      I bet you dad also invented Post-Its… No joke, Cape Cod Chips are great! And, yes, Vermont was beautiful, but cold.

  207. jessicaber August 2, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    Hmm, reading at night dangerous, maybe you are on to something there. My ex-fiance actually turned in to a very abusive person when he was tired. I do not know the theme song from Hey Dude. Was that a show? My father told me that there is some little ditty like “get on yee little doggies…” or something. I am glad that you like Cape Cod Chips. I am a single mom now and I buy them all of the time rather than the cheaper ones, because I feel that I am making the right choice. 😉 It was my uncle, my dad’s brother that created those companies.

  208. jessicaber August 2, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    I still argue that there were many cute characteristics to The Borders where I worked on Tatum & Shea Blvds. in Paradise Valley (Phoenix, AZ) there were so many shelves in there that I do not think that any one would ever feel like that deer in the headlights in too bright of a halogen light type of feeling. We did have a ladder for the fiction section which rolled along an outter wall. An employee would climb up there and get your book for you if needed. We had an employee called S.P.O.R.E. (special orders guy) who could find and order any book for you that you requested, no matter how vintage the book. That was his job. Our cafe had in door and out door seating. Borders in the summer of 1999 was the first company that I knew of to offer paninis. We had an impressive animea section and all of the children knew that you came to our counter to get their Pokeman trading cards. Mormon Tabernacle Choir music was easy to find in there on cd. We had big comfy chairs. Yes, they may have been vinyl and easy to wipe off but that was their philosophy we were a no blame store, people could browse forever, come in to get away and employees were not annoyed if customers were on their cell phones.

  209. lydbids August 2, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    You’ve articulated exactly how I feel about bookstores – they’re magical and home-like and the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon. I’m fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in Edinburgh, however, and they have the most amazing little second-hand and antique book shops absolutely everywhere. I don’t know where you live, but if you ever happen to be in the neighbourhood, spend an afternoon or a day or even a weekend browsing the bookshops. The perfect city break!

  210. lewismead August 3, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    I too feel saddened by the demise of the book store. I, at 16, am just approaching the maturity level where I can walk around a book store having these mad and random conversations about the world and his wife.

    I love being able to walk into a book shop looking for a book on maths and walking out with one pertaining to dinosaurs.

    Also, without an eBook reader (Kindle etc.) eBooks are quite horrible to read, reading an entire book on a laptop just does not have the same quaint feel and I find it incredibly hard to get actually into the book itself.

  211. jessicaber August 3, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    I loved hearing you 16 year old point of view. Thank you so much for that. It might help me too. Very cute.

  212. realanonymousgirl2011 August 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    Yeah it is pretty sad because I too enjoy perusing the book aisles and stopping by the book shop between dinner and a movie to kill some time. A lot of people say they love their NOOK and iBooks but I love holding a book, buying bookmarkers and turning the pages.

    • lewismead August 4, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

      Yeah, I also love being able to turn the page. I would love a Kindle too, but there are far more important things I could spend £119 on…

  213. jessicaber August 3, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    Okay, that is exactly what I was trying to get at…movies, bookshops, dinner, the mall…freedom. Alot of people are complaining about Border’s now, but is was just another option, right?

  214. jessicaber August 4, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    To me it seems like the kids now are the ones with the Kindle’s, Ipads and tablets. So I am going to stick with my lap top for now, something that my generation was familiar with. I see the children on The Disney Channel a lot with tablets, something that they can make posters on and share the screen with their friends easily and carry around for school. I do not want to steal all of their glitter, you know?

    • Maggie O'Toole August 5, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

      When I was in Mexico, I saw two bothers (dressed in polos with gelled hair and matching their Dad, so cute!) who were about 3 and 5 each carrying their own iPad in what looked to be drop proof cases. I thought, “iPads are for their generation, not mine.” First we had digital natives. Now we have digital touch screen natives. Too bad I’m neither…

  215. jessicaber August 5, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    I like what you said, but I did not get the “digital natives” part. It just sounded like maybe it was suposed to be cute, but ended up sounding niave or a bit prejuduced. My ex fiance’s family is the Mexican mafia, but he is not in the mafia. He was just born that way. His father is American his mom is Mexican. My ex-fiance was an Army Ranger paratrooper for the US Army before all of this Sept. 11th stuff, so he did not have to deal with that, but he had to go to The Panama Canal and French Guyanna. French Guyanna to rescue to college students from terrorists or something like that, dropping down out of helicopters with those big guns MI80’s or whatever they call them. He has been a college student and a loyal grocery store employee for years. He may be hispanic, but he has done a lot for our country and assuming that just because some one is Mexican that they don’t belong with high tech equipment is dead wrong.

    • Maggie O'Toole August 6, 2011 at 9:17 am #

      Oh, Jessica, I think you misunderstood! It wasn’t about the kids being Mexican. (I don’t even know what nationality they were.) I just happened to be in Mexico when I saw them. “Digital natives” is a term that means people who were born into a world where digital technology always existed. They’re people who are currently teenagers or younger who never had to “learn” to use a computer because they’d been doing it their whole lives. My youngest sister is a digital native. But I’m not because I remember getting our first computer in 5th grade (the year she was born). Make sense? I was suggesting that kids that age (preschool) have gone to a whole new level of technical understanding. They’re not just native to digital technology, they’re native to digital touch technology.

  216. jessicaber August 6, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    Lol. WordPress users are such gentle people that I did not really think that you could have meant anything wrong. I was very tired. Thank you for the explanation.

  217. Patty August 9, 2011 at 10:55 pm #

    Oh, how timely. Today at 2:45 AM I bade farewell (temporarily) to my hoard of books. It was a necessary evil, as our new apartment really is much too small, and bookshelves and storage boxes had to give way to a fridge, a dining table, and a double-deck bed. I considered selling them, but I finally lent them to a friend who just opened a tea shop, because I believe her customers would give them the respect they deserve. And I love the idea of sharing the books I enjoyed so much with that many people. I’ll be buying a Kindle next month to get me by, but I look forward to the time when I can afford a bigger apartment. By then, my friend will have amassed a library of her own, and I can be reunited with my books.

    In my opinion, ebooks are to a bookworm what nicotine gum is to a chain smoker. They’ll get you by, but they’re nowhere near as good as the real thing.

    • Maggie O'Toole August 10, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

      I don’t think that I could part with my books, even temporarily. My bookshelf in my dorm was filled from day 1 — even before I brought textbooks. I had to bring my books/friends from home with me. And, my book shelves were the first thing that I set up in my apartment.

      Here’s to hoping that they take good care of your books in the tea shop!


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