If Books Die, So Do We

In 1998, business mogul Joe Fox, played by Tom Hanks, was seen as the evil corporate sellout when he opened his Fox Books chain store in You’ve Got Mail. Kathleen Kelly, played by Meg Ryan, was distraught that her small local bookstore would succumb to the juggernaut.

Twelve years later, big corporations like Barnes and Noble and Borders are the leaders in book sales. Local bookstores are a rarity and neighborhood treasure when they are found still open. Yet twelve years ago, no one would have fathomed the idea of the juggernaut stores being threatened by any other power. Sadly that has become a reality and it poses the question of, what now?

Due to the success of e-books, the horrendous economy, and people’s lack of desire to read, stores like Barnes and Noble are being hit hard. Just yesterday I discovered that my favorite Barnes and Noble, located in the heart of Lincoln Center here in New York, would be closing. The mother load has been attacked.

As a writer, news like this is terrifying. Are we that addicted to technology that we need to read on a screen? Is paper not sacred anymore? And even worse, are we becoming a dumber nation?

Reading is a fundamental part of one’s education, enlightenment, and enjoyment. If that starts to be taken away from us, we might as well revert to becoming cavemen and cavewomen. Except now we’ll be saying “Me got new toy,” when holding our Kindle and not absorbing a word that’s on it.

The irony is that You’ve Got Mail dealt with business rivalry and love acquired over the Internet. Now the Internet is the problem.

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