28 July 2011

Collapsing Borders

The news broke last week that Borders is closing for good.

Shuttering 400-odd stores this spring (including several here in the Circle City) wasn't enough to keep them afloat. And with no other buyer willing to step up and take over the book chain, the only course of action for the company at this time to close.

Greater Indianapolis is going to lose at least three more stores, in addition to the three or four closed a few months ago. Just like that, six or seven book stores gone.

I don't want to get all doom-and-gloom about the future of reading, literacy and the printed word. It does make a self-proclaimed bibliophile's heart hurt though. I wrote about my feelings about the closings this spring and the concern I had/have about what this means for literacy.

I don't know what long-term effects closing Borders could have on the book world. I also don't want to decry e-readers or the Internet for the lack of people reading books. I'm thinking Borders probably made some bad business decisions -- opening too many stores (there were four on the general north side of Indy/Carmel). That kind of thing gets any business in trouble, whether they are selling shoes or washing machines or books.

Here's what I do know. Even when we're decrying the loss of bookstores, the permanence of well-written words remains. I had someone tell me the other day that they were really impressed with a letter I wrote. That's right -- in the mail, on paper, with a stamp.

My mentee for Starfish told me she wanted to work on her writing skills and so we're tackling some of that together. Right now, we're working on description. When she said that, I was so excited because she realizes that her writing skills are important. (We'll just let her figure out on her own that that key in description will help with more than just her attempts at fiction...)

If e-books take over and printed books become more and extinct, it's going to be the well-written e-books that rise to the surface. People still gravitate to words that move them or that they find fascinating.

The sad part is that with Borders closing, it might be harder to access them. But the sphere of needing well-honed writing will never disappear be it in books or life.

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