Death of a book store
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         Dozens of soft leather chairs were piled up against the wall. Some stacked on top of each other. Yellow “crime scene” tapes separated the stored chairs from the newly formed aisles. Scores of signs hung from the ceiling. “10 to 40% off.” “Everything must go.” “20% off books.” “10% off already reduced items.” “All sales final!” “Storewide closeout.” The store had been transformed into dime store shabby.
          The comfortable couches and padded chairs that used to be located around the premises were gone, probably going to be sold somewhere just like the books and music.
          The “Seattle’s Best” coffee counter was disassembled and shoved against another wall. Its pots and paraphernalia boxed and stacked, contents noted.
          The parking lot in front of the store was jammed, the biggest crowd since the store was built. Dozen were leaving the store, their arms loaded with plastic bags filled with sale items.
          The whole thing had a feeling of a funeral. The place where we went for knowledge, for entertainment, for information would be dead soon. Gone. A sign of our times. One by one they’re dying. The newspapers, the magazines, words printed on paper. Gone. It’s all happening so fast. The news is coming over the internet. Every day something printed is dying.
          Today it’s the Border’s store in our neighborhood. I heard about the closing on the internet. Big, bold letters proclaimed, “BORDER’S CLOSING - Up to 40% discounts.”
          A few short months ago Border’s announced that it was closing two hundred of their locations all across the country, but our Border’s would be saved. We celebrated the good news with people who like to read books.
          The delight turned to sorrow when the last minute decision to shut down our Border’s was announced.
          There are other book stores we can go to – for now, but the day is coming when there will be no book stores. There’ll be Amazon and some other sites on the internet where we can order a book and someday old men will tell their grandchildren, “Many years ago there were these things called books.” The youngsters will be astonished that people, way back then, would read things on other than computer screens. “Grandpa, what’s a book?”
          Inside the store, hundreds roamed, checking out the tables piled with books and clumsy signs, “10% off this table.” “Buy 2, get one free.” “Mysteries -30% off.” Somehow the signs irritated me.
          There were six registers going, where there is usually one or two. Twenty customers waited in line to pay for their discounted books, leather covered diaries and music CDs. All available at discounts. All sales final!
          There are now millions of sites on the internet, many offering things to read. There are devices, less than an inch thick that can bring pages of any book desired to the reader’s eye, downloaded in seconds.
          There is no longer a need to walk among the neatly stacked books, segregated by topic or author. The scent of ink, of paper and dust gathering on those books yet un-purchased is fading from memory. The recall of walking among the biographies of great men, of the thoughts of history’s heroes, of books filled with adventure and danger. Books that tell us of the successes and accomplishments of the giants. This is all disappearing. Press a key and your favorite book will be imprinted on a chip smaller than your fingernail. No need to spend an afternoon idly roaming the shelves filled with books, wanting to read all of them. Wanting what was in each book to be in your mind, felt and alive.
          Our Border’s will be open for two more weeks, until all that remains are empty tables, bookshelves, crumpled sale signs, those stacks of coffee urns and the dusty leather chairs and couches.
          A few unsold books will sit on shelves. Books by Hemingway, Albee, Heinlein, Rushdie, Tennyson and Pasternak. They’ll be put on a table marked “40% off.”
          Soon the doors to Border’s will close and be locked.
          Only the older ones among us will remember what it meant when they closed the doors and locked Border’s for the last time.