Bookstores are closing up shop.
First, it was the giant retail chains who squeezed out the local independent book sellers. We pulled out our tissues as Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan showed us how the evil, giant megastores with their unlimited funds and fancy espresso bars lured unsuspecting customers away from the caring, local bookseller who was eventually forced to close thier doors.
But was it the fancy espresso bar that lured us away from our friendly local bookstore? I suspect not.
It was the selection.
Simply put, the mega bookstores had space. Thousands and thousands of additional square feet which were used to house thousands and thousands of more books for sale. Suddenly, bibliophiles weren't limited to just a selection of local cookbooks and the latest Grisham novel. We expanded our genre horizons as we browsed for hour after hour in those giant book havens and walked out the door with books our local independent booksellers could never have stocked.
But then the virtual bookstores started putting the squeeze on the brick and mortar stores. The Amazon warehouse in Seattle alone is the size of thirteen football fields. Online, millions of books are literally at our fingertips.
No driving to our local bookstore, placing an order, waiting two weeks and then making a return trip to pick up the book. Simply hit the checkout key on our computer and bam ... our friendly UPS driver is lovingly placing the book in our hands within two days.
Don't want to wait the two days for delivery? Get a Kindle. Download just about any book you can think of instantly to your reader and in five minutes you can be happily ensconsed in your favorite La-Z-Boy reading Proust (and don't get me started on Proust. I've read it, I've studied it, and I still think it's crap).
This is a world of instant gratification. We've come to expect it. We demand it. Want to know what's going on in the Middle East? CNN broadcasts 24 hours a day. Heard a song you like on the radio? Download it instantly on iTunes. Miss your favorite television show? Stream it onto your computer.
Why should our books be any different? When we want a book, we want it now. Not two weeks from now. And the price we pay for this is the disentigration of our friendly community booknook.
Instead of blaming big business, perhaps we should take a look at ourselves first.
Personally, I think the whole problem started with TV dinners.
I'm just sayin'.