Where We Live: The Book 2.0

What killed the megabookstore?

goXunuReviews, Creative Commons
Where We Live: The Book 2.0
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Where We Live: The Book 2.0

Borders Books reached its height in 2005 with more than 1,200 bookstores around the world. In a few weeks, there will be no more.

What is the current state of the book industry and where is it going? A recent Pew survey says the percentage of adult eReader owners doubled to 12 percent since November. Amazon is now selling more eBooks than hardcover and paperback books combined. We’ll talk about what was behind the closing of the book giant and how the industry can thrive.

We’ll also talk with the owner of a very successful local used bookstore that remains a brick-and-mortar operation in the digital age. And speaking of digital, it seems like more and more classrooms are moving away from the physical textbook and into a more high-tech environment. We'll talk to a technology and education consultant about what schools around the country are doing.

Will you miss the era of mega-bookstores or have you already made the transition? Is this an inevitable evolution?



Listener comment from Suzi

Good conversation. But, I see little room for the "ebooks" argument in explaining why Borders failed. Powell's, R.J. Julia and others will live on with/without ebooks because they know how to run a business and create an experience that customers want from the brick and mortar. Borders had the in-store experience (I will miss the B by West Farms immensely) but apparently failed in the biz department.

Message from Marie

As much as I can appreciate a brick and mortar bookstore, I can't afford to buy all the books I want to read. I swap instead. For the past couple of years, 99% of all my bookgroup, kids' reading list, and whatever book I just want to read, have come from Paperbackswap.com. I have saved hundreds of dollars by trading books I have and no longer want for books I want to read. It is an amazing site to check out.

Listener email from Brandon

I'm 24-year-old with an MA in Literature, and while the closing of Border's is sad, the onset of a fast-paced, hyper-connected, mobile world seems to be leading towards a world where book reading only aligns with school, not pleasure.

There is a larger issue here: How many students, citizens, and online bloggers on courant.com are spending their free time reading?

Listener email from Sue

The Southbury Borders closed about 6 months ago, and I am so, so sad about it. It was only one of two places that teens could "hang out" productively in town. The manager there did a wonderful job serving this community with events like poetry jams and open mic nights -- where adults and teens mingled (imagine that!) in a positive atmosphere. He even hosted "preview" events for local theater productions.

This is a role that a vibrant book store can (and in towns like ours all over the state needs) to fill.

The only place left for teens to hang out here in Southbury is -- you guessed it -- Starbucks.