Border’s announced that they will liquidate their remaining assets and shut down their business. 10,700 employees will be looking for new jobs once their 399 stores lock up for the last time.
I worked at a book store while journeying through my college years. It was my favorite job, perhaps of all time: stocking books, recommending books, smelling books (yes, sometimes I would open a book and stick my nose in it – that smell is incredible – and if you caught a cold soon after buying a book from Encore Books and Music in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, I apologize).
Book stores represent some of my favorite places in the world: some of my earliest memories are of my mom taking me to a hole-in-the-wall bookstore in the heart of Amish country where I eagerly bought my next Hardy Boys book with a crumpled up $5 bill; Aaron’s Books in Lititz is one of my more recent discoveries, an amazing Indie bookstore with a friendly staff and great selection.
I hope book stores continue to thrive, I really do, but the truth is that the publishing industry has never been about book stores. It’s never been about agents. It’s never been about publishers or bookstores or even authors.
The publishing industry has never even been about books.
I think that because the industry has been able to use publishers and agents and bookstores and authors to sell books, it’s easy to forget what the whole thing is actually about.
It’s about stories.
People want to read amazing stories, and as the economy changes, as technology changes, the flow of stories from a writer’s mind to a reader’s mind has begun to challenge the accepted paths. Something I never imagined is beginning to happen: that flow has even begun to bypass the physical book itself.
If the day comes that I cannot take my children to a book store to peruse the shelves, that will be a sad day indeed. But make no mistake: the demise of Border’s does not mark the demise of stories. It simply serves as a stark reminder that, somehow, the traditional path traveled by the story has been diverted.
Stories will still be created; readers will still be consuming them; and someone will be making money somewhere in that transaction.