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Death of the Bookstore?

A Trip to the Bookstore

During a recent trip to Denver I took my oldest daughter into the Barnes and Noble next to our hotel to buy her the latest pop-culture book “Hunger Games”.  As we walked through the door and took in the first gust of bookstore scent I wondered if my grandchildren would experience this smell.

For me the smell of a bookstore means Christmas shopping with hot peppermint mocha in hand, memories of late night conversations with that handsome boy who will forever remain nameless to me, and one of the best and most inspirational ways to kill an hour while waiting for my daughter and her friends to finish shopping at the Hot Topic store.

Tonight’s aroma of “bookstore scent”, however, was combined with a faint hint of Eau de death.

In fact, my daughter and I just had a conversation earlier that made me question if the end of the bookstore is eminent.  You see, she has always been a defender of lost causes.  In middle school instead of worrying about the latest Tween fashion, she was trying to rally her friends to picket the circus that had come to town for animal cruelty.

And, as a card carrying member of PETA-2, she would lure me into debates (which I tried to avoid) about the mountain lion recently put to death for attacking a local resident.  My daughter was the one who made sure I begrudgingly attended school board meetings to oppose recent cuts to school funding.  And as I sat in a room with a total of about three other parents, I realized then her undying passion for making a stand for what you believe in, especially in the face of the most unfavorable odds.

Death of A Bookstore

So, while inquiring about Christmas gifts this evening, I explored her interest in an e-reader like a Kindle or Nook.  After all, she loves reading as much as she does ferocious animals that try to kill people who “invade their territory”.

Her vehement response about how e-readers and technology are killing the book industry and her plans to make a stand against them made me think that we may be experiencing the slow death of the book industry as we know it.  Would this be my daughter’s next “lost cause” and disappointment?

After all, my favorite bookstore, Borders had just closed its doors this past year leaving many people wondering what the future of the book industry would hold.

Death of A Book Signing

That next day I was scheduled for a book signing in Downtown Denver.  Although attendance was low, I’m grateful to have spent an hour with the owners at Broadway Book Mall.  Weather and location may have not helped our unfavorable turnout, but I wonder how much of a part our e-readers and smart phone applications may have played.  You see, even The Organized Cook’s Busy Mom’s Remedy To Dinnertime Ruts and Runaway Grocery Bills is available in an online subscription.  To make matters better worse, it’s coming out in a mobile application as well.

Broadway Book Mall, Dowtown Denver

But walking around this quaint bookstore with homemade cookie in hand made me marvel at what my younger children- and later on grandchildren- may miss out on if bookstores would ever lose out to the computer.  Just then, Noelle screeched as she picked up the book Madeleine, apparently her favorite childhood book.  She sat and read the first page with such excitement and happiness.  Would she be reading this book to her children via iPad one day?  I bought the book for my girls- 5 and 7, which Noelle later read to them in the airport on the way home with such enthusiasm that I could see in my girls’ eyes that Madeleine would now be a lifetime favorite for them.

Noelle helping to set up for book signing of "The Organized Cook"- signed books are still available for sale at Broadway Book Mall

Change in the Book Industry

Personally, I witnessed the rapid effect of the e-reader on our book industry from the time I signed my publishing contract in June, 2010 to the time my book The Organized Cook- Busy Mom’s Remedy to Dinnertime Ruts and Runaway Grocery Bills was released in September, 2011, right at the heels of Borders closing its bookstores.  My book came out at a time when uncertainties about the book publishing industry are affecting authors, retailers and consumers.

To further add to the confusion is the blogging industry- which I participate in with my blog Saving Time. Saving Money. Making Dinner- The Busy Mom’s Survival Guide and my personal memoirs, Busy Mom Living The Dream at ToniSpilsbury.com.  I enjoy blogging with the freedom to write what I want when I want.  But what would motivate someone to browse the bookstore for trendy cupcake recipe books, meal planning for today’s modern family guides or traditional Thanksgiving recipe cookbooks, when that information is at their fingertips via internet searches.

Was author, Ray Bradbury foretelling the vulnerability of the printed book in his 1953 short novel “Farenheit 451” where computers take over the world and order that all books be burned by fire?

And how will the cookbook weather these changes?  Is it exempt from going digital?  Have food blogs and online recipes replaced the cookbook?  Do people really want their e-reader in the kitchen with them while cooking?  Personally, the things I love about my cookbooks are the little stains and smudges confirming memories of fabulous culinary creations.  The more stains, the better the recipe, with sticky pages creating bookmarks for my favorite dishes.

I do not think the bookstore will lose out and die.  Rather, we’re experiencing a shift to allow room for its technological counterparts and we’ll soon see a balance, just as I am personally finding that balance.  I think there will always be people out there who love books as much as I do.   My nightstand is evidence to my loyalty to the printed book, and I feel inspired just walking by my quiet reading nook with its stack of favorite reads resting nearby.

So this Christmas, you are sure to find me gift shopping at my local bookstore making a silent toast to the memory of Borders with my hot peppermint mocha.  As for my defender-of-the-underdog daughter, I think a gift card to Barnes and Noble is sure to show up in her stocking.

And, if you happen to be in the Denver area, stop by and meet some great people who genuinely love books more than anyone I’ve ever met- the owners of Broadway Book Mall at 200 South Broadway, Downtown Denver, where they have signed copies of The Organized Cook- the perfect gift this year for your daughter, wife, sister, BFF or co-worker.

visit Broadway Book Mall in Downtown Denver to pick up a signed copy of The Organized Cook- Busy Mom's Remedy to Dinnertime Ruts and Runaway Grocery Bills

Just for fun, my favorite “bookstore” movies:

1. You’ve Got Mail

2.  Neverending story

3.  The Help


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