Friday, February 8, 2013

Bookstores - Death of an American Institution

Over the last 5 years, reading clicked with me.  I don't know the exact book that did it, but it all ties back to when I was studying for my M.B.A.  I was attending school part-time, but I truly didn't appreciate the opportunity to study, learn and grow until after I started studying for my graduate degree.  (To be honest, I didn't even have a good reason to go for my graduate degree, I already had a full-time career job lined up after college, but some part of me felt a need to keep learning.. which I am very greatful for... but I digress)

I attended Marywood University where I remember studying under Dr. Rex Dumdum for a few classes, and they were extremely reading intensive.  It was common to have 5-6 10+ page reading assignments - usually from Harvard Business Review - for homework each week.  While that may not seem like a great amount of reading, it was certainly imperative, as each following week all articles were discussed in great lenghts.  I also remember thoroughly enjoying each week's classroom discussions, as it was very enlightening to not only read such advanced concepts, but spend time in class dissecting these articles and reflecting on them, week after week.  As I finished up my degree, I reached out to "Dr. D" as he was affectionately called, asking him what I can read to continue to gain insight and knowledge.  He pointed me in the direction of Malcolm Gladwell, among others, and that was all I needed.. my reading button had been pushed.

Thinking back on it now, that was probably about 5 years ago or so.  Since that time, I haven't become a "huge" reader, I certainly find myself distracted at times to do other things than just read, but I definately have more of a passion for it than I ever had.  However, I have equally found pleasure in finding some reading spots nearby, since I learned that the siren call of a nearby Playstation, no matter how good a book I'm reading, is always tempting.  As such, I found myself at Border's a number of times over the years to get a nice cup of coffee, settle in on a heavily worn down leather sofa and dive into whatever I may have been reading at the time.  Then... Border's closed.  I can't say I'm surprised, I was one of the people that killed them with a death by 1000 cuts.  If you've read my previous post's, you've noticed my oft references to my beloved Kindle.  I don't go to bookstore's to buy books, I go for coffee and a quiet place to read.  For as brilliant a model it is to have a coffee shop in a bookstore, it's stupid to have a bookstore with all those amenities when you don't sell books. published an article late last year regarding the state of bookstores (, and it's interesting.. it also cannot combat what Barnes And Noble has become:

I didn't take that picture, but I easily could have, that isn't just a store display, that is the first thing you see as you now enter B&N stores, which is what I witnessed first hand earlier this week (and has become the inspiration for this post).  Bookstores are dead, and large chains like B&N know it, they're just saving face while they can.  It's a shame too, I went into my local B&N, got a Starbucks coffee, sat in a worn down leather sofa, opened up my current book and chilled out for an hour or so.  I wasn't alone either, there were plenty of people in the store.. just nobody browsing\purchasing books.  I enjoyed being there, and it feels good to be a book nerd amongst fellow book nerds (which is an amazing social experiment, a group of bookies who all share a room yet don't make eye contact or speak to one another).

Retail stores won't die easy, but many die nonetheless, and it's a shame, bookstores seem to have always been that niche store, almost like a special club in any local town or city.  You never saw the skate-rats hanging out in Border's, they were too busy slurping Coke outside the food court or browsing punk CD's at The Wall (yeah.. remember that music store?).  However, take any reader to a local town, they'll sniff out a bookstore within 15 minutes flat, enter the joint and talk to the cashier like their Sam Malone in Cheer's.

So fight the good fight local Barnes and Noble, you and your fellow bookstores are beloved, but you're a dying breed losing the battle one e-book at a time.

No comments:

Post a Comment