According to an article in the LA Times (quoting the WSJ, which is behind a paywall), Barnes & Noble, the last of the big chain bookstores, plans to whittle its brick-&-mortar stores down to only 450 or 500 stores in the next ten years. The reason: e-books. Big surprise.
So is this a good thing or a bad thing? As the article points out, real bookstores are destinations for more than just shopping. I’m one of many who enjoys going to a bookstore to relax and curl up with a latte or hot chocolate while I browse the books and magazines. I’ll often take my laptop or journal; it’s where I do some of my best writing. So I always hate to hear about bookstores closing.
On the other hand, maybe this could be a blessing in disguise. B&N, like its other mega-chain competitors, long ago squeezed out most of the independent bookstores across the country, with a few hardy exceptions. Perhaps in this new economy, the power of “small” might be able to shine through where the colossi have failed, leaving a void where independent, local bookstores might be able to spring up (or grow stronger).
What do you think? Are you saddened or hopeful by the news of B&N’s decline?