It may seem like you’ve heard it all before. After all, it’s as ancient as the David and Goliath story, or as modern as the next brave new idea. Perhaps the real tragedy is not that Book World is closing its doors, but that it’s become an acceptable, even expected, ending.
Book World launched in 1976. Like me, you may have grown up seeing the bookstores in Wisconsin or as they popped up in communities across the US. They closed their doors for good on Oct. 31, 2017 — Halloween. The scare was real… and the reality is far more troubling than any fiction.
Times they are a-changing, though; and both small and large bookstore chains have pointed to Amazon and the gradual and pervasive movement toward ebooks as one of the culprits of collective and seemingly inevitable demise.
Amazon first launched in 1994. It wasn’t the only startup with an eye to take over the world, but from those earliest, humble beginnings, it has rapidly positioned itself as a global ecommerce colossus. With such a wide-reaching scope, how can the “little” guy, and even the BIG GUY, bookstores possibly compete?
The Final Nail In The Coffin?
Instead of wondering how it could happen, many of us have been left to musing how some bookstores are managing to survive for so long. Like David-against-Goliath of old, it now appears to be an impossible feat. For those that do survive, the struggle is real.
On the one hand, we love the instant access to ebooks and online libraries, but there’s a toll on the literary community when we see those brick-and-mortar bookstores die, and then sit there empty and shuttered. These are the places that are, or should be, a focal point of our communities, a gathering place for readers, writers or just casual onlookers.
While Amazon may hold the final nail that closes the doors for some of those bookstores we’ve known and loved all our lives, there’s also the very real reality that we all have the ability to help to save them too. It probably doesn’t even take as much time or effort or money as you might think? Perhaps, we can start by trying to remember the last time we visited our favorite bookish haunts. We can all make a resolution to renew our support for the local brick-and-mortar places.
It’s not too late…