Column: Borders Bankruptcy bad for book lovers

Johannes Gutenberg is my hero. Gutenberg made the written word accessible to the masses and for that, as a reader and a journalist, I am eternally grateful.

As a child, the best present I ever received was a book. Books gave me a chance to explore and understand worlds I could hardly imagine. It was not uncommon for my parents to find me staying up late just to read some tantalizing chapter.

So needless to say, I was shocked at the announcement last week that the mega-chain bookstore Borders had filed for bankruptcy and was closing all but a few of its stores in Illinois.

I was not necessarily surprised, considering how few people actually read anymore. I was more upset that a store that had pegged such a solid existence in my book-purchasing experiences might be gone in a matter of years.

A lot of book enthusiasts are probably cheering at the thought of a major commercialized bookstore chain meeting its demise, leaving the word nerds to their hole-in-the-wall, lack-of-any-conscious-cataloging-system, you-have-to-know-someone-to-get-in book stores.

But for me it just means that people who might have picked up a book at a Borders in a mall will be that much further away from accessing the written word.

Even in my book-elitist state, the fact that most of my generation hardly reads, and rarely for pleasure, does not escape me. And although people quickly dismiss the demise of reading with a quick slap of technology, I am not convinced.

I don’t think putting books on the newest technological toy will make them more accessible to anyone.

Have you tried reading anything online? It is honestly a pain and an entirely different experience.

It bothers me to think that the next generation might not know the simple satisfaction of opening a book for the first time and hearing the binding crack, or understand the friendly and welcoming feeling of the worn pages of a book you have not read in a while.

Gutenberg’s printing press expanded man’s collective knowledge in a way no previous invention could and was not bested until the Internet came along some 600 years later. And now, to add insult to injury, the new kid on the block has sucker punched the literary world’s legacy and is attempting to reduce it to Kindles and Nooks.

Maybe I’m already too stubborn at the age of 21 to acknowledge what Borders’ bankruptcy and imminent closure means, but despite my generation’s aptitude for all things technical I will always prefer my crumbling copy of Shakespeare’s dramas to any sort of digital alternative.

Emily Steele is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]