I came to the sad conclusion today that I may have made my last big bookstore visit. I love bookstores, and now they are all pretty much gone. Years ago when I worked downtown, I used to go to the bookstore on the second level of Midtown Plaza. I believe it was a Waldenbooks at the time, but it was so long ago now ( around 35 years ago) that I might be mistaken. I remember everyone buying the Thornbirds (1979), Shanna (1977) and Sacajawea (1978) when those paperbacks first came out. Midtown also had a second choice for buying books. There was a Scrantoms stationery store also on the second level. They sold paperbacks along with gifts and cards. They were locally owned and couldn’t hold out against the chain stores.
My all-time favorite bookstore had to have been Borders. It wasn’t just because I worked in Henrietta for 9 years and stopped in there often on lunch breaks. Even when I was working elsewhere, a trip to Borders was always a treat. You could go in and browse, and the selection was enormous. I always knew I’d come out with at least 2 or 3 new books. It broke my heart when they closed. I still miss them. When I head out 390 South, I still want to get off at Hylan Drive and go to Borders. Only they are long gone. I think I am glad I work downtown now and don’t have to see the store sitting unoccupied or being used for other purposes. I don’t know what’s there now. I don’t have the heart to look.
I went to Barnes and Noble today because I had that “I want a book” feeling. I am looking for something that I can lose myself in. I stopped in Pittsford at the biggest Barnes and Noble in the area. I was so disappointed. Like the one in Greeceridge Center Mall, it’s becoming skimpy on selection. They’ve pared the selections way down. Sections of books that used to occupy 2 or 3 rows of shelves now occupy 1 shelf. They have increased the children’s area with its toys and games and junk. They have a good-sized Nook area which is great if I wanted another e-Reader. I have two now that I use infrequently. They also have a decent-sized used books area. There are a few “new releases” shelves, but the inventory overall is way down. They used to be packed with books, and now there’s a lot of open space. I am afraid they may be going the same route as Borders went.
So it looks like I am probably not going to be spending much time salivating over the selection of books in a big bookstore any more. Barnes and Noble doesn’t carry them, and they are the only big store left. I never really got into libraries like my Mom did. If the book is great, I want to keep it. I don’t want to have to give it back after a few weeks. I am still trying to get used to e-books. I have lots of them downloaded, but I forget I have them. They are out of sight and out of mind. I like to be able to flip through the pages of a book and be able to bounce back several chapters to look things up. That’s harder to do electronically. I also find on an e-Reader that I start a book and don’t finish it. It doesn’t hold my interest in that format. I would hit more used bookstores, but I also find the selection and the quality of the books there are lacking. I don’t want to read some stained and dog-eared copy of a book.
If newer books in a physical format (either hardcover or paperback) ever disappear, I think I will be devastated. For now I will content myself with online purchasing. There is no immediacy there, though. Even with Amazon’s quicker shipments, it’s 2 or 3 days before the book arrives. I miss finding that great book and rushing home to read it.