The Borders book store chain filed for bankruptcy today and announced that about a third of its stores will close while it tries to bail out financially. It's sad when any bookstore closes.
On the other hand....
There was a time when small, independent book stores stocked books people wanted to read instead of books the publishing industry giants told them to read. There was a time when authors appeared at those little book stores to discuss their works even if only a hand full of readers showed up on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
Take, for example, Chatterton's book store on North Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles. With my catholic (note the small c) reading tastes, I was always able to satisfy my literary whims there. There I discovered both Charles Reznikoff and Charles Bukowski -- regretted the latter discovery and cherished the first. And once Chatterton's even took a book I wrote on consignment and even sold a few copies of it. I traded the books sales for more books.
And then one dark day the giant corporate book stores started moving into neighborhoods, buying out the small stores and even worse seducing their customers away with late hours and places to drink coffee. Now there are only a few of those independent books stores left. Chatterton's is not among them. Of course I blame first Crown Books and then Borders and Barnes & Noble for all of those little book stores going out of business.
Borders blames Amazon for its financial woes. Maybe another reality to blame is, hopefully, the notion that true readers care about choice and don't like to be told by anyone what to read and what to buy.
If things come full circle we will be seeing the rise of small neighborhood book stores once again.
Or am I just dreaming?