In the Western world things are changing rapidly, from the long-term impact of the Internet and from the terrible results of the world-wide recession going on since about 2008.
One of these changes affects bookstores. Recently in the US, one of the biggest chain of bookstores, Borders Books, announced they were going out of business, unable to compete anymore with the amazing success of Amazon. After trying to sell the company and finding no buyers, Borders is going out of business.
These bookstore closings are also happening in Europe. I read a few days ago about the bookstore featured in the 1999 movie Notting Hill, featuring The Travel Bookshop in London. Even after the publicity of the movie, the shop could not stay in business. The article I read on their closing said that in the UK, three bookstores close each week now.
When we were visiting my daughter in Eureka, California, we went to the one and only mall in the town. The first thing we saw was this:
Inside there were quite a few people shopping for book bargains.
Signs were everywhere promoting the “Going Out of Business” sale.
On all the merchandise were discount notices, 60%, 70%, even 80% off.
Obama’s book is 80% off. How ironic.
Even the store fixtures are for sale. We saw people walking out carrying shelves they had bought.
In the center of the store there were still many books. Toward the edges, you could see empty shelves. Depressing to me, who loves bookstores.
One lone clerk checked people out and rung up the sales. “All Sales Are Final” and “No Checks” said the signs at the checkout stand. She is wearing a costume. The store owners were trying to make their closing event festive, in a way.
The figures below were part of the “festivities.” One was dressed up as a Ghostbuster, trying to eradicate one of the white “ghosts” floating around the store. The ghosts of the past, when people bought books at bookstores.
The store entrance within the mall showed the same sad signs.
This is the end of Borders. And for us, now we will no longer be able to walk through the aisles of shelves, browsing the books and finding unexpected wonders. Sad, sad, sad.
Beyond the bookstore, life was normal. Kids slide down slides at the indoor play park, excited and happy.
They can’t wait to get back up.
So they can slide down one more time.
These kids might never be able to browse a bookshop. Do you think this will produce a generation even more disinterested in reading books?
Past the play park is a small shop selling fresh-made pretzels.
My grandson, James, has his first job here. He is in the center of the photo.
He is happy to have a job, and will get his first paycheck soon. After being unclear on his future, he now wants to save money so he can go to college. He wants to get an English degree, and teach English in high school. He says that if he can get through to a few kids, who, like he was, are not interested in school and education, then this will be a worthwhile job.
But where will his future students get books to read? Will they read books, or book files on their computer/book reader? I don’t know. And what kind of jobs will there be for this future generation? Again, I don’t know. I wonder, and am concerned.