You probably know by now that it is a rare weekend where I don't see the inside of a bookstore or three. My very favourite is a new-to-me secondhand store, and I've have often gloated about my hard-to-find discoveries from a little out of the way treasure somewhere. Readings and other indy bookstores are my next favourites, but hey...we book addicts can't be too choosy - I'm quite happy in Borders as well. Actually, more than quite happy, but you get the idea. I lurve bookstores.
Which is why I was really sad back in February to hear that Borders were in trouble. Geelong's Borders survived the first round of store closures back then, although the Angus and Robinson store in the same complex wasn't so lucky. I was sorry about that, but the Borders was bigger, and I could still get my fix and so life was still okay. You can imagine my horror a couple of weeks ago, then, when I wandered into Borders for a little bit of a browse - and to purchase a new Haruki Murakami title to be truthful - only to discover the shelves nearly empty. Yes, now Borders is closing as well.
I was horror struck! Where would I buy books in Geelong? Where would Geelong people buy books in Geelong for that matter? At least there is still a little branch of Dymocks, I guess, and the ABC shop, but Collins closed last year, so did the lovely little indy place around the corner from my Mum. Paton's Books is still open, but really, for a city the size of Geelong with 200,000ish residents, that's not very many. Well, okay, my very favourite second-hand bookshop Barwon Booksellersis still open as well...(shhhhhhh).
Actually, I not only felt sad when I was standing inside the rapidly emptying store, I also felt a little like the times were a changin' a little too quickly for me. I could really see a time that the huge mega-Amazons would have a world monopoly of books, and I didn't like the feeling one little bit. Now, I'll admit to purchasing the odd book online. Hey, I buy books everywhere!! As a homeschooling mum, it is necessary to purchase books offshore, and if you're placing an order for a years worth of CM books then I'm going where I can get the best price. That's going to be my mate Abe or the Book Depository (or Amazon when they have shipping deals). (Jane Brocket's Gentle Art of Knitting arrived yesterday. It is wonderful. (as you would expect. (well, as I expected.)))
Last week Amazon announced that for the first time e-book sales for Kindle outsold print books by a ratio of 105 Kindle books to 100 print books. Now at first I'll admit I was cynical, imagining that figure to be predominantly the free books that make up almost all of what you'll find on my Kindle. (I love my Kindle for free books, I really do! Do you?) Apparently though, I was wrong. Kindle tell us that sales of free books don't count. Neither do magazine subscriptions. Their figures really do show that they are selling more virtual books than real life ones.
So now I'm feeling more threatened than ever. I would be putting my head in the sand like an ostrich if I didn't realise that print books are on their way out and fast. Much faster than I realised. Much faster than Amazon expected as well. People like me - the self professed 'book tragics' will hold out for a while. So will those who like glossy coffee-table tomes.I reckon kids books have a fighting chance as well. At least until Kindles are bigger and coloured or until iPads are cheaper. Then, who knows?
To me e-books hold little of the appeal of their real life counterparts, but they are cheaper, and they are easier to store, and they don't clutter the bedside table nearly as much, and they are easy to hold, and the spines don't break and the corners don't bend, and it is easier to transport Jemimah's AO4 curriculum. As people work harder at putting out of print books online, these are becoming more easily accessible as well.
I am not giving up my massive book storage space right now, but I can see that the time will come. And soon.
And I am not excited about that.
Not happy Jan.
Here's a musical interlude. Just to lighten the mood...
Personally, I prefer Bob's version, but the choice of YouTube videos was not so inspiring.
I am often accused of being a Luddite. And I am not alone - people have been wary of change for a long time. Remember Samuel Crompton hiding his new spinning mule in the roof of his house back in 1779? (See, I read Great Inventors and their Inventions in AO3!) Many people, including me, are resistant to change. But it happens whether I like it or not. Just as cars overtook carts. I wonder if my grandparents were sad when they unhitched their faithful old cart horse for the very last time into the paddock and parked their brand new horseless carriage in her stable? Did they resist change then as well? Did they say that carriages would always be around? (I mean for people other than Will and Kate.)
What about you? Are you feeling threatened, as I am, or are you excited about the changes in the book industry? Are you pretending that nothing is happening? Where do you think it will end? Will the shopping world become a virtual online shopping experience? Will I buy everything from my laptop? From America? Or China? Or one of the Stans? Will I chose my next antique Asian textile from a description on a website in Laos - or worse from an Amazon-like conglomerate somewhere in India?
I will stock up with reading material before I next visit Geelong. There are still plenty of shops still in Melbourne for now.
I wonder how long it will be before they're closed as well.
For the times they are a changin'.