Growing up in a small town, I didn't have access to the big Barnes & Noble or Borders chains. We had a tiny bookstore sandwiched in our tiny mall, between a pet store and an Eckerd's (<--remember those?). So, anytime my family traveled to the "big city," a massive-sized chain bookstore was one of the first places we visited. And later, in my twenties, I was in awe when I discovered a Barnes & Noble that was -- TWO-STORIES HIGH! Really? Enormous, wall-to-wall books, wherever I looked, wherever I turned. I was in Book Heaven. It felt like such a treat, shopping there. Remembering that store even now, I love that being in the presence of that many books could make me so happy.
The ironic thing is, I'm a hypocrite. Looking back on the past five years, I can't even recall the last time I stepped into a bookstore. I buy all my books online now. It's convenient, quick, and I can always find precisely what I need (and, the recommendations of other "similar" books that lead me to discover new authors take the place of physical browsing). So, in a sense, I'm part of the reason these bookstores are closing.
I suppose I'm mourning the idea of a bookstore. Of just knowing they're there. That if I do feel the desire to browse actual book shelves, to smell coffee brewing, to hear piped-in classical music and sit in a big cushy chair -- that it's still available to me.
It makes me sad, knowing bookstores (and now, libraries!) are in mortal danger. It's not that books themselves are disappearing, thankfully. But the sadness comes from knowing that a world I was so familiar with is about to become so obsolete.