I read on literary agent Nathan Bransford's blog last week that the death bells are ringing for Borders UK, a mega-chain of book and music stores throughout the United Kingdom akin to the Chapters/Indigo conglomerate in Canada. I've bemoaned the demise of the small bookstore in cities throughout North America - my hometown only has a Chapters, which is an embarrassment unto itself - and I can't see how any thinking person can fail to see the connection between declining numbers of bookstores and declining literacy rates. (Sure, we can still get books at Amazon, but to get to Amazon you have to load up a computer and look for it. There's nothing like a store that is right there in front of you every time you go out to shop.) But the bankruptcy of a major chain like this is something I thought I'd never live to see.
Meanwhile, my local Chapters is morphing into a children's wonderland, with almost half the store devoted to toys: plasma cars, dump trucks, puzzles, puppets, you name it. Though they claim it is an opportunity to get kids interested in going to the bookstore, I can't get rid of the nagging feeling that this blatant act of self-mutilation smacks more of desperation than innovation.
Rest In Peace, Borders UK. We'll miss you more than we'll ever know.
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