A Goodbye Letter to the Bookstore


I remember a time when I would eagerly look for two different stores in the mall. KB Toys and Waldenbooks. Both neon signs would make me so happy I could feel my heart skip a beat.

My love for KB Toys would wane, but my love for bookstores only grew stronger. I loved the smell of new books and fluorescent lights as I walked to my favorite section (Young Adult). I would run my fingers over the plastic spines as I quickly looked for books that were new. My oldest memories of my favorites series included The Babysitter Club (Claudia Kishi For the Win), Sweet Valley High, and The Boxcar Children.  There may have been some of The California Diaries and Little Sister series through in there, but that was the heart of my reading.

What was better than finding a new book in your favorite series? Finding a new author. As I got older Meg Cabot, Sarah Dessen, and Jackie Collins opened me up to new writing styles.

That was when I was younger.

Now that I’m 29 years old (insert joke about old age) I find my favorite genres of reading to be all over the place. That includes where I get my books. Gone are the days of walking into a Borders or Barnes and Nobles and feeling that skip of a heartbeat. Now, in the dead of night, I browse the online stores for a new hit or as the ordinary people say, a new book.

The traditional bookstore is dying. I’m not the first person to say this or will be the last. Gone are the days of walking into a bookstore and browsing for hours while listening to easy jazz. Now it is full of quick online buying while you have random television sounds playing in the room.

Let me say this now. I’m not against buying books online. Not even close. I love being able to grab the next title in a series at midnight. I like finding a new author through Good Reads. However, I miss walking into a store. Feeling the spines of books. Running across a new author or series at the ‘recommended reading’ section. I miss smelling paper as I open a book. Dog-earing a page when I need a food break.

Bookstores aren’t completely dead, but it’s heading there. At my local Barnes and Nobles, they have a bigger game section than children’s book section. The Starbucks section is even larger than certain parts of the store.

I understand to stay relevant in any industry you need to innovate and grow the customer base. That is what Barnes and Nobles are trying to do. However, according to reports, they are bringing in makeup.  What I thought was the death knell for bookstores (puzzles and games) wasn’t even close. Adding makeup might just be it.

Like I wrote in a tweet, when I go to Barnes and Nobles I want to get a new book, not new makeup. If I want that, I will head to Sephora.

I hope that someday brick and motor bookstores will become all the rage again. I miss going in and running my fingers over the spines. Listening to the conversations around me as I decide on which book to try out next. However, I doubt that will happen anytime soon.

So, goodbye traditional bookstores. We had a good run, and I hope to see you again.

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