Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Towns Without Borders

It is like the Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan movie ("You've Got Mail") on steroids. No longer is it the little bookstore that is forced out of business by the corporate giant. We are another generation down that road. Now Borders is soon to be no more in our town of Fort Lee. And the big empty space it leaves behind will indeed be hard to fill.

As I walked through the aisles with my wife last weekend, she was audibly unnerved. "Oh, this is so sad" could be heard every few steps of our journey. As the minions combed the now depleted shelves, seeking the best remaining bargains in this "everything must go" sale, the skeleton of what once was became more evident by the minute.

This was a regular stop along the way for both my son and my wife. It was here that I actually saw my name in print, as an author (in a book featuring a collection of 100 other authors), and experienced my personal 15 minutes (only in my mind, as no one else knew or cared to know who I was). But, more importantly, it was here, along with our town library, that my wife and son had a visceral connection to everything literary.

Certainly, in this era, where almost everything is but a mouse click away, the offerings within this store can be duplicated in cyberspace. However, the physical intimacy of the experience, of seeing and touching that book for the first time, of opening up that page to see if this is the one that is going home with you, cannot be duplicated

Like Meg Ryan, I understand that in the name of progress, things don't stay the same. And my wife and son may soon find another store, not a bookstore, that they will designate as a regular destination on any walk. But life will be a little different in our town as we morph into the era of books without borders. And that walk will be just a little less interesting.


Anonymous said...

At 8:45 AM on Sept 11th 2001 I bought a book at Borders in the Worlld Trade Center. I still have the book.

Robert said...

My point indeed. A physical connection to time and place. (in this context, a terrible one)

Anonymous said...

we lost our neighbor barnes and noble last month. feel the same way