Salon asked a bunch of authors and publishing folk for their thoughts on the bankruptcy of Borders. The responses range from indifferent to concerned to optimistic; some authors reminisce about the support booksellers at Borders stores gave to their books, while others reiterate their love for indie bookstores over all.
I like this bit from publisher/biographer James Atlas:
As a publisher, I had a visceral feel for the consequences of this massively transformative event. It was only a year or two ago that our beautiful books would arrive at the office in their boxes, and as we lifted them out and held them in our hands, there was always a palpable — and I mean this in the literal sense — sensation of having achieved something real. All those months and years of commissioning the book, urging it along, eliciting it from (more often, prying it out of the hands of) the author, editing it, revising it, copy-editing it, designing the cover, presenting the book to the sales reps, writing the jacket and catalog copy, soliciting blurbs — and in a more general sense, working at a job that paid little and offered little prestige ... after all that labor, here was the result. It had all been worthwhile.
Now they arrive and we wonder what to do with them.
It's like sending an email without an address. Where would it go? The last step is missing. Yes, we have Barnes & Noble (not for a whole lot longer, I predict); and yes, we have independent bookstores (fewer and fewer, less and less viable). We have Amazon (and it's a good thing, too). The big question, though, is: Can books survive as a largely virtual experience? Doesn't their very existence as a form of communication, a great technology, depend on their being physically present? I used to think so; now I'm not so sure.
Personally, high school would've been 25% crappier if there wasn't a Borders in my suburb. The cafe was open late; I read a lot of books I couldn't afford to buy. (Although to be honest it might've been a Barnes and Noble? It was big and a chain and had all the Sandman books and a cute guy worked at the coffee shop.)
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!