Wednesday, August 3, 2011
On the death of bookstores and the future of things.
There you go. The end of an era: the demise of the super-bookstore.
Sunday afternoon, Ashes and I stopped by our local Borders to see what was there to be had. She snagged a ton of YA, I stuck with feeding my passion for Twain and picked up copies of Life on the Mississippi and Huck Finn. God, I love that man.
In my heart of hearts, I have this strange hope that the demise of the huge bookstores will bring things full circle, and usher in a return to small local bookstores. Certainly, my quasi-city could use one: with Borders closed, I can't think of a bookstore in the vicinity. A small local bookstore would be nice, I think. Maybe keep a little online business going on the side. Hey, maybe it can't make BIG HUGE PROFITS...but guess what? Evidently, neither could Borders.
However, I know, in my mind of minds, that such a thing is not going to happen. As much as I would like the demise of big business to signal the resurgance of small business, I know that what it really signals is the inevitable ascendancy of virtual business. The local bookstore housed within your computer, on your Kindle. No need to go out, interact with people, drive your car. You can take care of everything from your bedroom, with your slippers on (never mind that because everything is virtual, and there's less need for, oh, American employees, those slippers are pretty ratty, because you can't afford to buy new ones).
Such is the way our world is headed. Someday soon, most necessities will be purchased without leaving our home, which is okay, because our job will be in our home, too. Already, I suspect that a good percentage of us who have jobs could possibly conduct most of our work out of our homes, if we needed to. The only real jobs for most of the population outside of the home will be in fast food, medical, warehouse storage, and delivery. To save money, the government will establish virtual classrooms to teach our children. Our entertainment will be fed to us through our large screen televisions. The only reason any of us will need any sort of outside business is to buy fast food and to pump gas to visit non-virtual friends. And, for those who can afford it, expensive vacation resorts, like Disney. Oh, and attorneys will survive, too.
And also, what will happen to all of these empty monster stores? I thought they were stupid and useless when they were first being erected everywhere, but now I wonder, what's going to happen to all of them, eventually?
Maybe they can be torn down, to make way for large family homes or rental units. In a virtual world, jobs will be increasingly hard to find, as only the truly technically savvy will have jobs that pay anything worth a damn. To make due, the size of the nuclear family structure will have to increase, as only two or three will have jobs that pay much, and the community that used to be our work community will revert back to the family structures we used to see hundreds of years ago (only perhaps larger and older, since we are living longer, now). Also, it won't be two parents, ten kids, but a broader, more diverse assemblage--two or three kids, one parent, an aunt or brother, grandparents.
Okay, well that's just plain depressing. Can you see why a return to the small local bookstore is what my heart is hoping for? The other possibility doesn't seem like a very pleasant existance at all. I'll take a return to normalcy, thank you.