Staff Editorial: Fredericksburg Bookstores Reach Final Chapters
Don’t get us wrong: we love Riverby, Read All Over, and the Griffin. Some of our biggest dreams are to become townies and work at the bookstores downtown while pretentiously drinking lattes at Hyperion every day.
But, when we want to make fun of our friends, our selection of “…for Dummies” books is now severely limited.
Last Friday, the Borders in Central Park closed its doors for good, after the company announced bankruptcy in February. Since July, 399 Borders stores closed permanently, according to Forbes magazine. Now, the only major book seller near Fredericksburg is Books-a-Million, which took the place of Joseph Beth Booksellers in the Spotsylvania Town Center.
It’s not that we hate Books-A-Million. But, we kind of do. Their selection is mediocre in comparison to Borders or Barnes and Noble, and frankly we’d rather sell out for Starbucks or Seattle’s Best instead of Joe Muggs.
Maybe our problem is that we’re too needy. We shouldn’t be looking for elite poetry magazines or travel guides. We should only be reading the canon, then we wouldn’t have this problem. We’re being too demanding, right?
No. Living so close to a major metropolitan area, our choices should be plentiful. We should be able to say, “I want to read this French philosophical book,” drive to Central Park and buy it. We shouldn’t have to scour around Amazon and then wait three to five days for shipping.
Honestly, we would rather give our hard-earned money to the smaller bookstores downtown. Not only can we walk, but we can sit in the overstuffed armchairs for hours, pouring over Dostoevsky. We don’t want these stores to sell out and become the next Borders; all we ask for is a little more selection.
The bigger issue behind the Borders liquidation is the even greater chance of print becoming obsolete. If all Borders really had going for them was novel memorabilia, we wouldn’t be too worried.
But as writers and as editors, our futures may rely on the written word. More and more bookstores are going out of business every year, with Borders and Joseph Beth as only two examples.
With Kindles, Nooks, and other eReaders dominating the book market, the smell of a newly printed book or the feel of the raised Times New Roman on the page may be going from liquidation to Smithsonian within a matter of years.
Fredericksburg seems to be going through the reverse “You’ve Got Mail” syndrome. Joe Fox has failed us, and the shop around the corner has risen to the occasion. But, what will happen when people stop buying books all together?