Tuesday, August 2, 2011

No Romance in e-Reading: The Heartbreak of Closing the Shop Around the Corner

by Jacqueline Fauni

When Borders first announced they were filing for bankruptcy back in February, I was devastated, but still held out a bit of hope since they were only closing some of their stores, and fortunately the one in Torrance (my local store) would remain open.  Call it optimistic or naive, but I thought maybe -- just maybe -- taking this step would help them eventually turn around.  Alas, they are closing all their doors for good.

I've read lots of different opinions on the matter -- some chalking it up to mismanagement, some calling it poetic justice because Borders was responsible for a lot of independents going out of business (like Tom Hanks' Fox Books to Meg Ryan's Shop Around the Corner), etc.  But as my fellow card-carrying (though those cards are useless now, except maybe as collectors' items in 200 years) Borders Rewards members would attest, many of us are deeply saddened.  One particularly disheartening reason Borders is closing up shop is that they couldn't keep up with the "e-volution" of books, with their Kobo getting left in the dust by Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook.

Yet another reason for me to despise e-readers.  Grr.

Sure, they save trees, space, time and money (at least in the long run), and as a Millennial, I'm supposed to covet all sorts of cool technology, but as a rather old-fashioned gal myself, I just have no desire to buy an e-reader.  Where's the romance in pressing some buttons instead of being able to turn a page and relish its strangely satisfying texture under your fingertips?  Where's the communal spirit in shopping for books online (besides the reviews... which I must admit are incredibly helpful)?  Where's the serendipity in instantly clicking "purchase" rather than spending a Sunday afternoon idly perusing the shelves for hours and stumbling upon a book that seems to be made for you?

Just as there's something about the act of grappling in an empty post office box that doesn't quite translate to checking your e-mail, the e-reading revolution lacks the organic shopping experience offered by bookstores like Borders.  Of course, I don't think Borders' closing is a sign that all brick-and-mortar bookstores will be going extinct anytime soon (knock on wood) -- but I sincerely hope the e-books revolution doesn't completely take over and wipe the society and romance out of reading.

What do you think about Borders' closing?  Are e-readers the bane of any other book lovers' existence out there?  Or have you made the switch?

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