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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bookstore no more

Borders books is gone. The mega chain failed to find a new owner and is being dismantled.

At one time readers feared the big chains would destroy the little bookstore. Quite a few of them did fail. Now that one of the giants has fallen, there may be space for a few more independents again. It’s unlikely the small guys, combined, will have any where near the same amount of shelf space.

This is a huge loss for publishers, writers and readers. That big a market can’t disappear with it rippling through the industry. On top of the jobs lost directly, expect losses to hit publishers, distributers and writers. Pity the writers. It’s tough enough to get into print and make a living. Now it just got tougher.

E-books are growing. Amazon seems to be doing well right now. That’s fine, but I’m going to miss brick and mortar bookstores if they all disappear. There is something special about wandering through a bookstore and checking out books at random. The on-line experience doesn’t come close to caputuring the same feeling.

There are more and more “books” that are only in electronic format. It’s a cheap and easy way to “print” and distribute the written word. My concern is that much of this writing will eventually be lost. Electronic records are dependent on storage devices and machines that can read them.

On a personal level, anyone have important data stored on 5.25 inch floppy disks? How about 3.5 inch floppies? They were very common only ten years ago. Personally, the only thing I’ve got left from the 5.25 disk days are a few stacks of paper printed with old dot matrix printers. A couple years ago I went through all old 3.5 disks and saved the information to newer formats.

Now everything is backed up on multiple computers, a removable hard drive, CDs, and jump drives. For some reason, my oldest CDs don’t always read very well. My guess is that they don’t last forever either.

To this day, the only reasonably priced way to save information long term is to print it out -preferably on acid free paper using archival inks.

Of course, then we are back to books, those things that used to sold at Borders.



  1. ...not to mention the plan of doing away with written words,also makes it easier to "edit" current works that aren't PC...two generations without "real" books,and they change history to their liking...

  2. Green shoots huh? Economy rolling along huh?1000 more people looking for work huh?Quantitative easing huh?


  3. I agree, I inherited a love of books from my Dad. I spent a lot of time during the summer 'heat of the day' reading books when I was a teenager.

    Dad and I would travel to San Antonio (4 hours one way) to shop book stores, spending hours looking for a couple of good books to read. We'd look until our vision grew fuzzy and you get a bit dizzy reading titles sideways, lol.

    Thanks you for your post.

  4. CD's and DVD's have about an eight year life expectancy. Being exposed to light shortens their lives and being in the dark lengthens it. Get all your stuff off that kind of storage. It is safer to have important info backed up on several different media.

  5. Ken: information disappearing down the rabbit hole is a real concern.

    China: Looks like a killer frost is hitting those green shoots.

    Anon: Bookstores of any sort have always been a drive from where I live. Must have been nice to do the trip with your dad.

    Dizzy: that lifespan sounds about right. I'll have to go through my disks and see if there's anything left not switched over to newer storage.

  6. Anon 7:36 here - Thanks. We have some bookstores, but they mainly cater to paperback currently sold 'wimmens in luv' type of stuff. Not my forte.

    Its that or Waldenbooks or Barnes and Noble. Trouble is, the books I wan to order must be on their 'list of books we won't order', I'm constantly being told its unavailable.

  7. Anon: that's a whole 'nother issue. The midlist and obscure titles are hard to get. Often even in a huge bookstore, they won't have my favorites. Thank goodness for good used bookstores.

  8. I do print out a lot of stuff for my "survival bible" just for that reason, that e-stuff can vanish in the blink of an eye. Books last much longer, if one can keep ideologues from burning them...