Category Archives: Borders

Why I Will Never Own A Kindle-Feb 15 2011

 I remember years ago me and my brother watching “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” a series on public television based on the books by Douglas Adams, the madcap sci-fi was centered around the adventures of Arthur Dent, an Englishman from earth, and his friend from somewhere in the cosmos Ford Prefect.He (Ford) rescues his friend from the destruction of Earth in order to make way for a hyperspace bypass. The Guide itself was an electronic book that Ford used to great advantage to get them out of and also into trouble. We both thought the electronic book was fantastic and talked excitedly like kids about the prospect of owning one, wishing that it did indeed exist. But now roughly twenty-five years later it does exist at least in its early stages, and I find it deserves the label of “silicon snake oil” So as they say be careful what you wish for…

 This winter finds me staying in (despite my remarks in previous stories to the contrary) and reading voraciously instead of venturing to the wilds of New York City. The severe weather we have had and lack of finances has kept me home. I just finished reading “Life” by Keith Richards, before that it was “The Quiet American” by Graham Greene and currently I’m almost finished with “Eating The Dinosaur” by Chuck Klosterman. But recently I read with a sinking heart the news that Borders bookstores were expected to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week. I already knew they were closing about one-third of their stores nationwide but didn’t realize how grave the situation might actually be. They are considered the number 2 bookstore in the US behind I’m guessing Barnes & Noble. Borders has posted a drop in sales the past few years and a disappointing holiday season this past Xmas.

 While there recently I was told by a clerk (who has been there for years) that my local store is an active one and in no danger of closing, but as we all know the employees are the last to be told.  I know that many people are using the web to purchase books from Borders online,(which could explain the drop in store sales) and yet I can’t help feeling that the drop in sales is directly liked to the insidious rise of the Amazon Kindle, and the many other e-readers on the market which seen to be growing daily.  These e-reader’s has begun to chip away at book sales over the last few years, and yes I know. Borders has its own that its hawking in the stores and online too. But the thing that fills me with dread is what all this might mean for the future of books.

 We have already seen the demise of the mom and pop book shops, they just couldn’t compete with the large chain stores which does by the way include Borders. But the fact is that the small bookstores didn’t have the inventory, the cafe’s and didn’t provide the comfy chairs to sit and relax, read and in some cases sleep in. There are of course specialty book shops selling priceless sets and antiquarian volumes. But many of these are by appointment only. I’ve traipsed through a few of these shops in my time under the watchful eye of the store owner, who I’m sure – realised before I did, that I couldn’t afford to buy anything he had on the shelves. But that’s New York City-whaddya expect! My problem with e-readers is more complex than mere hatred for technology, I mean I love my computer. It brings me the world 24/7 and presents me to those who read my essays and stories. What I detest is the possibility that my local bookstores will close one by one. A sad result of the obsession with technology that grows yearly like the national debt. While I’m sure that the tree people applaud the notion of millions of trees being saved from the axe, (I’m a tree hugger too-at least to some degree) the greater problem is the millions of people employed by the publishing industry who will find themselves out of a job. This of course will take time…lots of time, but if I was in publishing I’d be worried. It’s not just about me and my selfish desire for a bookstore to lose myself in a few times a month. Think about it, very few of those people will be able to cross over to jobs producing e-books, I can’t imagine too many tree farmers being down for the sterile halls of a silicon chip factory. Many will have to go to school to start over and believe me, it’s not easy to do in your thirties or forties.

  The loss will also be the tactile feel of a book with pages instead of plastic and metal, the smell of the paper and faintly too of ink. Then also the much-loved book signing events we all enjoy attending, the chance to meet ones idols and get a book signed will also be lost! How is a signing going to work with a Kindle? Yet another distraction from the everyday that will be lost in a post book binding world. The investment in a Kindle alone is a half-a-weeks pay for some,  then the inevitable updates, crashes, re-boots and down loading of new books. Lets not forget about the battery charging that you have to add to your already full “To Do” list. It seems like too much bother when you can pick up a book for a few dollars, have a coffee and maybe even meet another human being to interact with socially.

 The makers of this product I’m sure don’t see a problem going from your computer screen to the kindle screen and back again…and again, then add the TV screen to the equation and you can almost feel the eyestrain this will cause. We have become a world of people staring at screens, hypnotically pointing and clicking at work and at home. The future generations will grow up further and further from real books as the decades roll by. I’m sure to some who may read this I sound like a paranoid over-reactionary fool who’s panicking at something that will never happen in my lifetime. To others maybe a prophet of a very real future. I don’t know but I can say with conviction that I’d rather be guilty of the former than the latter. The path for me is clear, to buy more books and to urge others to do the same. Your local bookstores need you and if your like me you need them too. Don’t take it for granted thinking they will always be there. The bookstore could easily go the way of the general store that our great grandparents knew, replaced first by the five and dime them by the chain stores like Newberry’s and McCrory’s, only to be swallowed up by K-Mart and Target. Like the drive-in movie, arcades, and soda fountains. No one notices the loss till it’s too late.

 Maybe I’m just feeling my age and wishing for a simpler time, or perhaps I’m just a tragic figure like Burgess Meredith in the Twilight Zone episode “Time Enough at Last” about a man who just wanted time to read. It ends with him stumbling around the ruins of a post apocalyptic library with broken glasses in hand saying over and over “That’s not fair, there was time to read now!”

I can safely say that I will never own an e-reader and hopefully I will find a kindred spirit and she and I will have the library together I always wanted. Of one thing I am also sure, I will definitely be buying a second pair or three of eye-glasses…just in case.


Glen Registered & Protected


Filed under Amazon Kindle, Borders, Life, Literature, Memories, My Truth, New York City, Rants, Twilight Zone

Anthony Bourdain In N.Y.C-June 8Th 2010-Part 1

 Today is a very special day for me, one that I never saw coming. I put my car in the shop to get some work done on it before my front end falls off, so after hearing that Anthony Bourdain ( famous for his Emmy Award winning show “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel) will be signing copies of his new book “Medium Raw” at the Borders bookstore location on Broadway near Wall St in New York City. I walk to the train station which is a bit of a hike and after stopping for a cold drink at a convenience store, make my way to the platform of the Long Island Railroad and gather with the waiting workers. They are all going in later than the rush hour and seem to take it in stride that the train is ten minutes late, they read papers or just stare off into space occasionally stifling a yawn or staring at a cellphone while texting. I on the other hand am in a rush I want to get this mission going so I can be assured of a good spot on-line, I expect it to be a mob scene. Soon though I hear the clanging cow bell of an approaching train and look up to see it’s a double-decker! I know I sound like a geek but these are really nice trains and like Tony’s brother, I have always been fascinated by trains, especially old ones. I have only been on one of these twice before so I am stoked.

 I have to admit I’m a little nervous about this, I mean I don’t know what to expect, will I like him?(What am I a schoolgirl going on a blind date?) Will the line be so long that I’ll miss him? I have brought with me a sample of my writing for him to read as a gift. Will he like it? Will he even read it or just toss it away? He probably gets all kinds of peoples written work as gifts, everyone secretly hoping that Tony will like it so much that he will send an e-mail or something. I would bet even in this age of electronics he still has thousands of fan letters to deal with, some from psycho’s and other’s from people like me who have been enriched by his show and his writing. I also feel a little guilty about and sorry for my mom who would have liked to go with me if she was able, but is going to the eye doctor for a shot in the eye that keeps her from losing her sight. She has to get them every six-ouch-weeks, wear your sunglasses people or wind up with Macular degeneration. Then also I guess I’m a little like a kid who’s going to see Santa for the first time, for me Anthony Bourdain is larger than life, and this is big for me.  I’m so mad at myself for forgetting my camera in my haste to get the car to the shop, call in, and get to the train. I’ll have to buy a disposable one in Penn Station so at least I can get a picture with him.

 Lately I have been feeling like the forces are gathering against me, maybe it’s the bad karma from my negative thoughts about the future. My car is going to set me back a few hundred bucks and I’m worried about what happens when the well dries up, the cushion of money I got when I took out a loan against my 401k is slowly being used mostly on making high payments to pay off credit card debt. But when that cushion is gone I’ll be unable to keep those payments up and will have to either break contracts I made or file bankruptcy, which is a last resort. The only other option is to close my 401K, take the tax hit on that and get the leftover money out which combined with my tax refund could get me into next year and hopefully a better economy. So my joy over this adventured is tempered by the stress of my life, I have to try to overcome it or I’ll have a bad day. I sit and write while a young asian guy in a suit stares intently at his Mac laptop, while across the aisle from me a middle-aged woman in stockings and heels studies her college notes. Opposite her  a woman in her sixties watches the student pack up as we near the station and I see a smile creep across her face, possibly remembering being a career woman in her younger days when everything had to be perfect, teeth, nails, makeup, hair, clothes, everything.  I was lucky to get a seat on this busy train, I walked back three cars to get my seat and am happy to have had a sit down, now it will be a quick march to get to the subway and down into parts unknown. I actually haven’t seen this area I’m going to on foot yet, only by car in the days when there was time for me and a friend to drive around all night smoking ciggy’s and talking about life, the universe, and everything. Those days found me trying to escape from my parents and the confines of our house,  my friend was escaping a loveless “arrangement” with the mother of his child. That all  seems very far away now. But enough about the past, that’s a story in itself.  I am starting to get excitedly nervous as we descend and slow to arrive at Penn Station and I make my way slowly topside in the crowds.

 The city is throbbing with energy for me as I start to walk to Park Ave via 33rd St. I walk briskly while the sound and color of the city speeds by me, 33rd is a strange and amusing mix of cheap eats, upscale shops and sterile looking businesses, stretches of boring steel doors and service only entrances are suddenly broken up by a colorful Bodega or take-out joint. When I come to Madison Ave I realize how different the city is during the week, more hustle, lots more noise, less relaxed. You can tell the vacationers from everyone else easily…they are the ones sitting down. Everyone else is haulin ass.  I get to the 6 subway and descend to find myself in a hot and stuffy station with no air, luckily the train comes in a few minutes.  I sit in the air-conditioned car with an interesting group representing every color and country, a young couple on vacation, a tired worker from Jamaica, a Asian girl with her ancient grandma, and many others all riding it seems  to the end.  I get out at the Brooklyn Bridge City Hall station and find it isn’t as quaint or clean as I thought it might be, I mean with all the money Bloomberg is spending you’d think the nearest subway station to City Hall would have been done years ago. Then again I don’t have to live here so I go up and start my walk to Borders, I come upon a nice view of the Brooklyn Bridge and take a few pics and sit on a low wall and drink some water, there’s a few people sitting at some tables set up against a fence that surrounds the City Hall Park behind me as I watch cars go up and down the massive bridge towards the horizon. I begin walking to Broadway but stop to take a picture of a guy in his late fifties un-chaining an old time push bike wearing a very nice grey suit! I marvel at people like that, you gotta see this bike it’s a full size bike not a kiddie toy, but I guess that’s how he keeps in shape. It’s so nice today a high of only 75 degrees after so many hot days well above 80.  I’m a happy camper as I come to Broadway, I take some photos of Trinity Church and cross Broadway and I take it down a block or two and suddenly find myself standing facing Borders across the street. I made it with plenty of time to spare and am surprised to see no line outside.

 When I get inside I am shocked to see no crowds, in fact the store isn’t crowded at all! I’m a little puzzled but ask where I can purchase my book and where to go after that. So I make my way up to the mezzanine and find about 40 or so people waiting ahead of me, staff will be on hand to take pictures of each of us that brought cameras, and we are all checked to see that we paid for the book, so all is good –  and now – we wait. I’ve got about two hours to kill before the signing starts. I haven’t eaten a thing all day but strangely I’m not hungry. I am looking forward to a meal afterward, maybe I’ll head back up to the Village and find a place to eat I haven’t been before. I stand in the line and actually begin to read my new book while I wait and already I’m loving this book, I hope he writes a whole lot more of books like this and more fiction. I just like his style…hopefully someday I’ll be able to rub elbows with him at some writers shindig as a published writer myself. I start to feel my feet barking at me with an hour left to go… I wish I had a Cafe Creme and a chair.


Glen Registered & Protected


Filed under Anthony Bourdain, Borders, Life, Medium Raw, Memories, New York City, No Reservations, Travel