Local, National, Digital: Bye, Bye Borders!

I’m a nerd – I buy books. There’s a great little shop in New Orleans called Octavia Books. It’s where I’ve bought all of the Harry Potter novels on my shelf in an attempt to keep things local. Actually there are several amazing small bookstores in New Orleans. Before I moved to NOLA, my two favorite shops were The Book Bear in West Brookfield, MA and Raven Used Books in Northampton, MA (There’s also a great spiritual book shop in Santa Monica, CA that I love called Thunderbolt Books, but they don’t have a site).

Anyway – I remember being angry when I moved to the city so many years ago and saw how big corporations like Borders and Barnes & Noble were monopolizing the industry and putting small book shops out of business.  I vowed never to step foot in them (I was trying to be a good lil hippie), and then something happened. I walked into a Borders or a Barnes & Noble and found their sale racks, their bargain book racks, and I fell in love. So – shoot me already. I found myself getting off the St. Charles streetcar in New Orleans with my partner just to hang at the uptown Borders that had been transformed from a funeral home (only in NOLA).

Now folks are buying textbooks online. I have a Google Books and Kindle app on my iPhone, and I buy literary ethnographies to read on it. I can fit thousands of books on my telephone. That’s insane to me. Regardless,  I can’t bring myself to purchase digital textbooks. I’m the kind of person who needs to feel the paper and turn some actual pages. I make notes in margins, and I like to doodle (yes, I said it). I like to read in bathtubs. Then, the other day I took my iPhone to the bathtub… too much info? It bugs me. I didn’t drop it – I was able to read just fine on it. I was even able to make digital notes in the margins. It just… represents change, and I know I’m ranting like crazy here but I’m bothered by the whole thing.

My parents never took me to book stores or libraries when I was little, and I was always jealous of the kids whose parents did. I want kids – I want to bring them to bookshops and sit in a corner and let them read for hours. By the time I have kids,  they’ll be learning to read on kid-friendly iPads. I guess maybe this is a “good ol’ days” post – or maybe I’m just grrr-ing at the fact that I don’t mind when I get tea-stains on my paper pages. It doesn’t ruin the book – just gives it more character. My dogs like books – they like to chew on them. I can’t spill anything on my iPhone or future iPad.. my dogs can’t take a bite out of my partner’s favorite crime novel. They’d be toast!

Okay enough for now… I went to the local Borders closing sale when it opened this past Friday. I was sad to see it go, and it bugged me because I used to think of the little guy… and then somehow they became the little guy, and now they’re gone.


One comment

  1. “I’m the kind of person who needs to feel the paper and turn some actual pages.”

    Hurrah! I’m the kind of person who knows that you haven’t published ANYTHING until it has been published on paper. So keep on doing what you’re doing, we need people like you.

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