Last week, Borders announced that they were filing for bankruptcy. Borders opened in 1971 as a used bookstore in Michigan. They have since expanded to more than 650 stores. They are now closing over 200 stores nationwide. If book giants can’t make it in this economy, then who can?
“Last week, Borders announced that they were filing for bankruptcy. Borders opened in 1971 as a used bookstore in Michigan. They have since expanded to more than 650 stores. They are now closing over 200 stores nationwide. If book giants can’t make it in this economy, then who can?
Borders made a lot of mistakes and most of them were beyond their control. With competition from Barnes & Nobles and Amazon.com, Borders struggled to keep in the game. Amazon.com sells brand new books for a fraction of the cost that Borders does. Superstores like Target and Wal-Mart have also been undercutting their prices.
People do not read books or newspapers. If they do, they turn to e-readers and cheaper alternatives. For news, it’s easy to go straight to the Internet where news is readily available and free.
If a business like Borders isn’t staying afloat, what does that say about this world and our future? Very little. One day I want to write and I want to get paid to do so. But that’s not looking likely. I have grand dreams of writing a book. What’s the point of writing a book if I cannot hold it in my hands? I fear that all of the world’s books and news sources will be condensed to digital copies in less than 400 words. Nobody wants to read large masses of text.
Not only does this challenge the world of books, but also the overall economy. Borders employs 19,000 people. If 200 stores are closing so far, think about all the people out of jobs. The unemployment rate is already at record highs. This won’t help. Borders owes hundreds of publishers millions of dollars. Publishing companies are losing money, which in turn means writers are losing money.
This is more than a little scary, especially for those with ambitions of becoming a writer, like myself. Books sales have been staggering for years. With the evolution of e-readers like the Kindle, a lot of people have lost the need for actual physical copies of books. Books aren’t sought after like they once were. Few people still read books. I often notice people making comments like, I don’t remember the last time I read a book. The idea of people not reading scares me. It’s almost as if everyone stopped caring about expanding brain power.
It’s great that e-readers are thriving, but those are not books. Those are strange tiny digital versions. They sell for a lot less than most books do. The cost to produce a digital book is far less than that of an actual book, but at the same time, people are still losing money.
Is there anything that can be done? Not just for Borders, but for books across the board? Hopefully. I do not think that books are a dying breed, but I do believe that their appeal is fading. I can’t pinpoint the decline of books, but I have an idea. Technology. Technology is readily available to just about anyone. Most people who might have read a book in the past don’t bother because there’s no need. Between Internet, phones and free Wi-fi, reading a book is too much work.
The Internet and television are largely to blame for the new way people absorb information and why most stopped reading. Instead of being an either/or situation, the two should work together. Television shows and films are in a way an extension of the written word. They all start from something written. It’s the difference between seeing with our actual eye instead of using our mind’s eye. Writers should instead direct their attention to the things which they can control, which is producing quality work. Writers may stop making the same kind of money or any money at all, but if they are doing it well and producing top-notch books, then not much else matters.
Maybe we’ve reached the end of an intellectual movement. Maybe we will never get back to the days of leisure where books contained value and importance in daily life, but maybe we will. If not, there’s always the Internet.