HERD ABOUT IT?
by Ana Grarian
Well, it’s a sad day in the old town tonight. The county’s last independent, full service, new book, store is closing. Having survived the onslaught of chain bookstores (most of which have also left town), it is succumbing to the effects of retail giant Amazon and the pushing of reading onto electronic platforms.
I think the community will lose – again. A local bookstore, like the corner diner, or the grocery is a place to meet and chat. I just don’t see that kind of interaction at the Box-O-Books, and it certainly isn’t happening ordering over the net. How many conversations will not be started with “Oh I loved that book!” because no one can tell what’s on your e-reader? How many friendships, love stories, not begun?
There is a financial impact to the community. Is the big A going to donate to your fundraiser? Do internet booksellers collect sales tax and pay it to your Town/County/State? Do they employ anyone in your community? With e-books there isn’t even a delivery person.
Eventually there will not be stacks of books to meander through at garage sales. Nor I suppose will the used book stores last many more years if we decide to read everything over our xyz-phone. I suppose old fogies like myself will keep print in stock for a while. I have a hard enough time dialing my cell phone, no less trying to read War and Peace on it.
How much of this came about due to the flattening of wages since 1970? If the average person’s wages had kept pace with inflation, perhaps more of us would have the money to buy locally. And if most of us weren’t working 2nd and 3rd jobs to make ends meet, we’d have more time to read.
Well, it’s the end of an age. Once we’re fully wired the biggest box left standing will download whatever it wants into our heads, and we’ll be too busy to notice.