Old Age and Closed Bookstores

Our local mall isn’t exactly a hotbed of activity. Most of the stores are empty. All over America, kids consider the mall a favorite hang-out. Here, I imagine they would rather watch paint dry. It’s sad to see this architectural monstrosity wasting away on prime real estate.

Seeing a closed bookstore always strikes me with sadness. When I was young, I volunteered in the school library. All those shelves laden with distant lands, exciting experiences, historical events–they awed me. Still do. I wanted to read almost every book there (school libraries include books about science, math, and other such dry, sweat-producing, nightmare-inducing topics. I steered clear of those!).

Later, before college, I worked in a bookstore called 5th Avenue. If the employees didn’t damage the books, we could read all we wanted and put them back on the shelves. I was in heaven–just like in the library, except all the books were new and scented with ink instead of age.

Now I’m writing books in an era when stores are closing and electronic books are the new rave. By June, Give the Lady a Ride will join the ranks of books ready to zip through cyberspace and land in whatever handheld device the reader has. Part of me finds this amazing. Another part of me dreads the idea that this new life will obliterate the old, and I’ll never again see my book covers on my own shelves.

The strongest feeling I have is one of age: I’m not really old, but I am. I wonder if this is how folks my age felt when cars replaced buggies or TV replaced radio.

Maybe it won’t be so bad though. Microwaves didn’t totally replace stoves and ovens, they just became another tool in the kitchen. And, really, radio isn’t dead in spite of TV, and with the gas rates as high as they are, buggies may make a come-back.

Maybe electronic books will become just another source for readers and won’t replace bookstores and libraries entirely. Maybe I’ll see The Cat Lady’s Secret on my shelf at home and not just on Amazon. Maybe it’s not as bad as I think.

And maybe I’m not all that old.

About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
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13 Responses to Old Age and Closed Bookstores

  1. Nina Hansen says:

    GREAT post. You can’t be that old, because these same thoughts occur to me frequently, and I’m a mere sprout. 😉 One of my favorite TV shows has an episode set in a far-distant future in a library the size of a planet. The MC says: “A million kinds of digital downloads have been invented, but people never stop loving books. They need the smell of books.”

    I think that’s true. I think there will always be enough people who love books that they’ll never disappear.


  2. I agree with you, it is hard to imagine a world without books or book stores. I like the feel of a book in my hand, and yet, as I watch my friends with their Kindles, I can see applications where these would be a great tool, such as traveling. When I went to Africa, I brought tons of books – tons being the right emphases, but I couldn’t bear the thought of going without a good selection of reading material. A Kindle would have been much simpler, and lighter. I hope your final analysis holds true, like microwaves and stoves, e-books will just be another choice, another tool.


  3. This made me sad. Sigh.

    Plus at the rate I’m moving, I’ll never see a book cover.

    Though there is hope in your last two paragraphs.


  4. Linda Yezak says:

    Nina–I think it’s true too, if for no other reason than we authors like a physical representation of our labors!

    Cecelia–I’ve thought of getting a Kindle because the books don’t cost as much, and if I don’t like one, I can just delete it–it wouldn’t take up space on my shelves.

    Sandy–You’re sure to see your name on a cover. Get busy and write!!!


  5. Lynne Walding says:

    Nothing makes me sadder than a Mom and Pop bookstore closing. (I wonder if I would feel that way if I wasn’t a writer.) Probably not everyone was sad over the advent of automobiles . . . but I bet the buggy-makers were. Of course, presumably, books and book writers will go on. However, as you lamented . . . will we get to see our books on our own bookshelves? Gee, that’s half the fun of being an author. I vote yes, if we have to print a run of one, just for our own pleasure. 🙂


  6. K.M. Weiland says:

    I read an interesting figure the other night about how it took radio 50 years to reach one million people, while it only took the Internet three years. Times are a-changing – and fast. No doubt about it.


  7. linda yezak says:

    Lynne–you’d think die-hard readers would be at least a little upset over bookstores closing, not just writers. But I’m with you, I don’t think they’ll ever get rid of books entirely.

    Katie–I hadn’t heard that, but I believe it. I heard one company is presenting a return policy for folks whose equipment becomes obsolete within a few days of buying it. They came out with the Droid less than a week after I bought my Blackberry–I’d rather have the Droid!


  8. Brad says:

    As a writer, I like paper books to make notes about an author’s techniques. But as a reader, I’m totally into the Kindle. I love having my Kindle library on my BlackBerry and laptop, too.

    I’m not sure what will become of newspapers and books. I’d never have believed newspapers would be in the dire straits they’re in. And music CDs are dwindling away, replaced with MP3 downloads – I only buy music digitally now.

    But even if things go fully digital, there’ll always be a digital “book cover” and your name next to it as the author. 🙂


  9. linda yezak says:

    Brad, I write in the books I read too. I recently got into audiobooks, which are great for as much traveling as I do, but I can’t flip back and find that turn of phrase or colorful description like I can in a book.

    I can see Kindle’s benefits and may break down and get one some day, but I’ll always prefer the physical.


  10. I recognize that mall picture from my decade plus of living in that area. I love the touch and feel of a REAL book. I own a number of audio books. I own the book edition of each where I can turn back and reread sections. It is hard to collect ebook or audio books. I haven’t figured out hw to put them on myself yet.


  11. linda yezak says:

    I haven’t bought the paperbacks to my audiobooks yet and haven’t figured out a reason to keep the audio versions. Recently, I had a chance to ask Ted Dekker about making audio books through Goodreads. Whoever does the GR e-zine or blog asked me to submit a question for their interview with him, but I never heard back and never found the interview. I’d love to figure out how to do that!


  12. NorA says:

    As a reader, I think reading fiction on my Kindle is great. For a lot of non-fiction, like study guides and such, I prefer a real book. Then, again I went nuts downloading Beth Moore’s free books onto my Kindle yesterday. We adjust. I do love real books too though and hope they never go away. 🙂


    • Linda Yezak says:

      I’ve bought a Kindle since I wrote this, and really like it. It’ll never replace physical books for me. Like you, I like my nonfiction in print. I’ll probably keep buying fiction in print too, especially when I find a style I appreciate or can learn from.

      BTW: I went nuts with Beth Moore’s freebies, too!


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