My blog photo makes me sad. When I first posted it, several months after a book signing at my local Borders, the only problem I had with it was that I had no idea who the lady in the background was/is, and I had no idea how to crop her put of the picture. Now, the problem is that the setting no longer exists. Our Borders has been closed for about a month.
As we stood waiting for a taxi outside Penn Station in New York last weekend, we couldn't miss the big, empty storefront where the Borders used to be. Shopping at a nearby mall last Friday night, I found a Books A Million where the Borders used to be. I lingered at the door momentarily, but didn't venture in.
At Target yesterday, I enjoyed browsing the well-lit, neatly arranged book section, which
seemed bigger than it had been before our Borders - just down the street - closed its doors. My daughter, who is a voracious reader - found quite a lot to pique her interest.
Trendy series and books by popular authors graced the shelves alongside works by authors famous for their writing skills as well as those famous for less literary reasons. We left with four books, which my daughter will no doubt devour within two weeks.
What then? As long as she wants to read the hot and trendy titles, we should have no problem keeping her bedside table well-stocked. And for the more obscure titles, well, there's always Amazon, or a half hour road trip to our closest Barnes and Noble.
But within five minutes of our house, there is a small, independent bookstore. When we first bought our house 17 years ago, this bookstore not only had a twin across town, but it also occupied a much larger retail space, with a beautiful - and beautifully stocked - children's section. Some time ago, however, its twin closed, and the store closer to o our home moved to a more intimate location. I don't remember whether or not this coincided with Borders' opening, but against all odds, this small, local store remains, tucked away in a strip mall, surviving with less than half of the space, stock and clout that Borders
And as much as I know how this blog should end - with the loyal, local author reformed and making her purchases at the underdog bookstore - the bottom line is that the number of books we purchase makes this conclusion unlikely. Has the demise of Borders awakened my sense of duty, nudging me to make sure that at least some of my purchases are transferred to this independent bookseller? Yes. But when Target and Amazon discount their books, and Barnes and Noble sends me coupons, it's tough to plunk down full cover price in a small store that will probably have to special order the title I want because their inventory is so small and select. And they can't afford to make that inventory any larger because even people like me, who recognize the importance of their fiesty little business are turning to giants like Amazon because they ship books to my doorstep.
I don't know what the answer is. As much as I hate the fact that the whale that swallowed up so many small bookstores has now sunk into the depths of the retail sea, and as much as I champion - and admire - the minnows that remain, buying all my books as full price special orders just isn't going to happen.
So talk to me. Please. Tell me what your answer is, because while I know I will make a renewed effort to visit that miraculous minnow of a bookstore, I know that all of my purchases won't transfer there.
Not as long as there are discounts and door-to-door service.