Books dead? Barnes & Noble for sale


News of the death of books panicked some stockholders in Barnes & Noble.  Responding to those concerns, the company put itself up for sale (Wall Street Journal article).

The pen didn’t kill the book.  The typewriter didn’t kill the book.  The pencil didn’t kill the book.  Radio didn’t kill the book.  Movies didn’t kill the book.  Television didn’t kill the book.  Telephone didn’t kill the book.  Personal computers didn’t kill the book (much to the chagrin, perhaps, of the designers of the Apple Lisa — and if you remember that, and it’s coming with all the works of Shakespeare loaded on the harddrive, you’re older than your colleagues think you are).

In “A Dangling Conversation,” recorded in 1966 by Simon and Garfunkel, Paul Simon’s lyrics say, “We speak of things that matter/With words that must be said./’Can analysis be worthwhile?/Is the theatre really dead?'”  Some other questions are similarly and equally unstuck in time, and I think “Is the book dead?” is one of them.

So long as there are books, and readers who demand books, there is a need for a bookstore.  They may move to our libraries, but we’ll still need and want them.

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3 Responses to Books dead? Barnes & Noble for sale

  1. Devona Wyant says:

    I cannot live without books.
    – Thomas Jefferson

    And without B&N in a town 14 miles from me, I’ll have to drive in the other direction for a 50 mile round trip city trek to find a Borders.
    The private bookstores are long gone. The three used bookstores I used have now closed.
    The libraries are closing branches, reducing hours, and buying fewer books…often mainly buying those on the Best Seller Lists.

    Thank goodness I’ve been collecting since childhood and have my own mini-library.

    Like

  2. Ed Darrell says:

    You have the Strand! If I want a Wall Street Journal, here in the wilderness of the south-of-the-Trinity south Dallas County, I have to go to Barnes & Noble. The New York Times is also available at Starbucks, but they closed most of them down, here.

    Here the suburban schools assign a half-dozen books a year kids have to read, and we need a good bookstore to provide them. Since Maxwell Books died, that leaves us with a Half-Price, Duncanville Used Books and Magazines (specializing in comics and graphic novels), and Barnes & Noble.

    In much of middle America, Barnes & Noble has been a huge boon to culture.

    Texas is weird about books. It’s the home of Half-Price Books (the Mother Ship is here in Dallas). Larry McMurtry’s used book shop, Booked Up, is one of the saviors of Archer City, Texas, not least because it sprawls over several buildings. The big chains don’t always do well here, the Waldens, the old Book Stop, etc. B&N and Border’s have been good to much of Texas.

    Laredo? Their mall B. Dalton Books closed a few months ago, and there is not a book store at all in the town, at least, not for English books (No wonder immigrants coming across the border get odd ideas about this country, eh?) Laredo is a city of more than 230,000 people.

    More books were sold for electronic use last month, than in paper, in the U.S. If you want to make a case that books aren’t dead, you need something other than Amazon to make the case (I use Amazon for coffee filters, myself).

    Like

  3. elektratig says:

    Ed,

    False analogy. Books aren’t dead, but B&N is on life support. I have a B&N about five blocks away and used to wander through it all the time. I probably haven’t been in it (except to duck out the rain once) in about five years. Browsing Amazon is a lot more productive. And if I want that book smell, I go to a used book store – the Strand is two blocks away.

    Like

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