by Emily Fahey
With Barnes & Noble standing as the last major bookstore in the nation, these developments suggest that the old-fashioned bookstore could disappear entirely, taking with it one of the last places where the community can experience literature together.
The book industry has reacted to the technological craze by releasing e-readers and e-books, but as the sale of those increases, the sale of physical books declines. Currently, Amazon is the biggest seller of e-books and e-readers, according to csmonitor.com. According to amazon.com, they sell "more Kindle e-books than both hardcover and paperback books combined."
Because of the increase in e-book sales, many worry that paperbacks and hardcovers will go the way of records and CDs in the wake of mp3s. According to gutenbergnews.com, the first e-reader was released in 1998. "Since 2002 the US has lost over 500 independent bookstores, meaning that one out of every five bookstores was closed," according to csmonitor.com. Over 150 of the 500 stores closed last year after Borders Bookstores, Barnes & Noble’s once fiercest competitor, declared bankruptcy in February 2011.
But unlike CDs, which have become redundant, books still serve their purpose, which is why physical bookstores shouldn’t disappear entirely. Bookstores are more than just places to buy books; they are places to experience books with others. E-books make reading a solitary activity; e-book users stay in their homes and download books onto their devices. Bookstores, however, bring book lovers together in a community atmosphere that encourages the sharing of opinions on books and discovery of new ones.
The demise of the Barnes & Noble bookstores would not only leave 35,000 people out of work, the approximate number of employees according to bn.com, but also many publishing companies. According to publishingperspectives.com, publishing companies depend on the survival of the bookstore; without them they are in danger of having no work.
If the only way to save Barnes & Noble bookstores is to keep the Nook division as a united part of the company, then the company should not diversify. An e-reader may not be the same as a hardcover book, and swiping a screen doesn’t feel the same as turning a paper page, but it’s better to have the choice between the two than to only have the option of an electronic device.