Saturday, November 19, 2011

Last Bookstore in Delaware's Capital City Closes

Dover is the capital city of the state of Delaware and is about to become notable as a capital where there are essentially no remaining physical stores that sell newly published books:
DOVER, Del.- It's the end of an era for a popular bookstore chain in Delaware. Atlantic Books is going out of business after more than 30 years. The chain will close stores in Dover, Rehoboth and Bethany Beach.

Customers will now be left looking for other places to buy their books. Atlantic Books is the last major bookstore in Kent County.
To me this is a very sad story. I've been a book lover all my life. In my home I have custom built shelves weighed down with about 1,000 or so of my absolute favorites. I've never really enjoyed shopping as an activity, except that I can easily spend several hours in one sitting at a bookstore perusing the shelves.

The article continues:
Customer Theresa Stancliff said, "It's almost as if you like a real book in your hands, you're not allowed anymore without driving and making the sacrifice. It's very disappointing."

People like Theresa love the feeling of a real book in their hands. But, a tough economy and the rising popularity of e-readers have made it difficult for general brick and mortar bookstores to compete.
This is where I have to put on my peak oil writer's hat and say that you will not catch me dead with an e-reader, ever. I could say it's a sacrilege to read books that way, but that would make me sound like an old fuddy-duddy. Instead, I will make this argument: what's going to happen to all of those e-books in the coming powered down world of the future? Why, they're going to disappear into the electronic ether, that's what. To me, it's bad enough that someday I'm going to lose all of my music when the power goes out for good.

But at least I'll still have my books.

Bonus: Bill gets asked the question, "What you reading for?"


  1. They still have a library. Right? Please say yes.

  2. The e-book is a travesty, just like digital clocks, which I hated from when they first appeared. Time became measured in increments, with no space in between to get lost in reverie, and no option to think of the time remaining before the hour, instead of after. Online dictionaries are similarly limited. In a real dictionary, I can get lost reading definitions of words I never knew, which happen on the same page as the one I was looking up. So there goes perusing the proximate books on shelves, in libraries and stores.

    But then, I've always been a Luddite at heart.

  3. @Megadoom - Gawd, I sure HOPE so...but for how much longer.

  4. @Gail - I know what you mean. In my basement library I have an old-fashioned clock that even audibly ticks off the seconds. It just seems appropriate.

  5. You have to spend more $$ at the bookstore in order for it to remain open. You know that!
    In my case, I used to have 4 or more books going at any one time, all laying around, but no more. Now I use my IPad with Kindle app and only have one thing laying around. I like the size, the convenience, but most of all... The ability to vary font size... It's my eyes you see.
    And what will I do when the net fails? Learn to cope, just like everyone else. It will just be more inconvenient.


  6. @Steve - I often bought my books at Olsson's, an excellent local chain here in the DC area, before they went under a few years ago. I also frequent the remaining used book stores as much as possible. Sadly, all we have left now in Northern Virginia for new books are the Barnes & Noble locations.

  7. I am also a big used bookstore fan as well as a devotee of Amazon books. No e-reader for me either. And as a small press maven, I publish on acid-free. Yeah!

  8. Hi, All,

    This whole bookstore thing is unnerving: it reflects both the corporate obsession with profits (they make nothing from used, so have a vested interest in destroying such stores) & the rapid dumbing down of US society. Physical bookstores encourage random discoveries and talking with real people; online "stores" don't, and the big chains have far less variety (esp. in more "radical" viewpoints). The nearest significant city to me (Worcester, MA) has 10 colleges but no independent bookstores (two B&N branches). The last indie was about to go out of business a few months ago when it burned down.

    I know people like Steve who love Kindle, etc., but I'm a bit Luddite — I like holding a book & being able to take notes in the margin. I also don't trust e-books after the scandal last year (?) in which Amazon was caught deleting purchased books remotely. Can't do that with the printed page, and once you have hard copy, you can always compare it to future editions to see where things have been censored. Furthermore, when things collapse, we'll need printed books to relearn things; Kindles will be 100% useless except maybe to hold my book page open!