Monday, August 12, 2019
I’m sitting in a Barnes & Noble Starbucks, a class of institution I don’t really expect to exist a few years hence. Heavily sweetened coffee drinks aren’t going anywhere, of course, but chain bookstores feel pretty doomed and it’s not really clear to me that this one can manage a transition to selling random toys and board game crap instead of books.
I love independent bookstores, and spend most of my book money at several, but I’m going to have some feelings when B&N kicks the bucket. I grew up in the country, and the mall bookstore chains in the nearest city big enough to have a mall were my primary option for anything I couldn’t get at our small-time library. Those first trips to a big, well-stocked Barnes & Noble were revelatory. The SF&F section alone felt bigger and more expansive than the entirety of a B. Dalton / Waldenbooks.
It’s strange to think of that sense of things opening up as a side effect of the end stages of an entire economy and medium, but I suppose that’s more or less what it was.