Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wither the bookstore, and us?

Borders, the bookseller behemoth, threw in the towel and declared bankruptcy today. It will shutter some 30 percent of its big-box stores. That’s a shame. Granted, Borders (together with Barnes & Noble) slew the independent bookshop., in turn, slew it. Perhaps there is poetic justice in that. And we can take solace in knowing that the wondrous product of Gutenberg’s invention still lives. But we are all the poorer for having fewer places to browse aisles of written treasure or serendipitously discover new ideas. In a galling (but clever) gambit for page visits, the Washington Post asked it readers to submit a six word "memoir" on Borders' demise. One drolly wrote: "They came. They sold. They floundered." True enough. But I wonder if it is civilization that has floundered in allowing another tactile cornerstone to be chipped away.

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