13 November 2007

Another love bites the dust ...

They're putting teevees in Borders.

Yeah, that Borders. The giant chain bookstore. I go there occasionally because I love bookstores. The smell of all that paper and ink just does it for me. I love the variety of books in the stacks, and it delights me, all that soaring (and occasionally thudding) human thought gathered into one place, printed and presented so that anyone can read it. I love the idea that I can open a book and step into a new world, and that each time I read a book I forever change my perception of the world and how I react to it.

Since Borders and Amazon.com ate up all the little local booksellers, Borders is the only brick-and-mortar bookstore I go to these days. I sometimes spend more than I ought to there, but I don't love Borders and I don't go often.

The news that Borders is putting big, wide-screen TVs in their stores forever kills my love of bookstores. They've made sure that I'll never walk through their doors again. The very thought of a television blaring in a bookstore gives me a headache. I don't like TV. I stopped sitting in front of the tube, eyes glassy and mouth hanging open, years ago. I can't stand watching it.

And now it will be in bookstores, one of the last sacred places. As I peruse fiction stacks, the blathering talking heads will be yammering on. As I skim through pricey magazines, debating whether $12 is too much to spend on something that's mostly fashion ads, TV commercials frantically selling me cars and designer drugs ("ask your doctor about how Snake Oil can help you!") will form my auditory background.

You know, I don't go to the bookstore for lattes. I don't go to buy music. I'm not particularly interested in overpriced book lights that go through batteries like kids through their Halloween candy, and my "boughten" bookmarks last for decades. The fact is, I go to the bookstore for the books. I go to have my imagination awakened. I go out of curiosity, out of a longing for discovery and adventure.

I don't want a television blaring at me while I look for a good book to read by the fire while it rains outside.

I don't get the same satisfaction from buying my books online as I do from buying them from a bookseller. I like holding the book in my hands, reading snippets to find out if I like the writer's style, or how good (or bad) the writing is. I like being able to put the book back on the shelf and look for one that appeals more if it doesn't meet my personal standards. I like feeling the book's heft in my hands, and savoring the quality of the printing and the paper before I open my wallet.

But I'll just have to adjust. With the installation of televisions, my love affair with bookstores has ended once and for all. It's like finding out after the wedding that your Prince Charming farts at the dinner table and neglected to mention his under-the-bed mushroom farm.

Lance said it best, I think: "When I want to be forced to watch television, I'll go to the grocery store."


Wil Robinson said...

Some things are made to buy online - i.e., music. I never want all 10 songs on the CD, sometimes only want one, so buying online makes sense. And of course I can actually hear part of the songs...makes perfect sense.

But buying books online? It's not like Amazon is going to put bad reviews up for a book, and you're exactly right - how can you buy a book without thumbing through it, checking out the writing style, organization, etc.

It makes me wince to think of a bookstore with advertisements blared on a television.

Take care.

blue girl said...

And now it will be in bookstores, one of the last sacred places.

I so totally, agree Blue Wren. We have a Borders and a Barnes & Noble. We go to B&N because we "know" it better. It's more comfortable. The Borders near us just feels cold -- it doesn't have that "overstuffed" feeling with the nooks and crannys that I love. Now for sure I won't *ever* be going to Borders again.

Here's my theory, based on -- well, nothing.

I think Borders may be losing out to B&N in a big way and it's a last ditch effort to get ad money.

That's what I'm hoping at least. I'm hoping there's a backlash and this "brilliant" idea doesn't help Borders therefore no one else will be tempted to follow.

I really, really hope B&N doesn't adopt the idea.

I will cry.