While reading an article about one of Steve Jobs’s neighbors, I came across an opinion piece on the bankruptcy of Borders. The writer noted that:
“The death of large chain stores could be a boon to our libraries and small bookstores.”
While many of us will continue to just buy books from Amazon (hopefully not Costco, Target, or Walmart), we should also consider visiting the small booksellers in our area. These small book shops are in business because they love books and we ought to visit them out of respect for that love, and perhaps to rekindle our own spark of that love. Would you rather buy from a store where the books are commodities, one of a thousand items on display, or from someone who loves and lives books and is willing to share their knowledge and passion with you? There’s no contest.
Libraries also will benefit, since the demise of Borders will make it a little harder to get the exact book we want immediately, as we’ve come to expect. Many people will remain blind to the fact that books are not and will never be commodities, that they are a cornerstone and sine qua non of human civilization. But libraries, those sadly under-frequented temples of knowledge, may recapture the hearts of some who’ve forgotten about them.
I hope that the popularity of eBooks, at least in their current form, is a passing phase in our cultural development. The difference between a book and an image on a screen is both symbolic and physical, and both differences matter a great deal to our humanity. I spend far more time with words on a screen than with books, but I do miss the days when I could devote hours at a time to letting a story unfold, moving from the authors mind to my own through the medium of paper and cloth.