I didn’t rejoice when Borders announced they were going belly up, but I didn’t really care, either. I’d long since stopped buying even paperbacks there although it was still nice on an unhurried lunch hour to browse through their magazine shelves to see periodicals I never knew existed. Except for the odd gift here and there, I can’t remember buying a hardback book in any of the big box bookstores for at least five years. And since the advent of the affordable e-reader, I haven’t even bothered picking up a paperback book from Wal-Mart—not when it’s so much more convenient, not to mention cheaper, to download it to my Kindle. So how come, the picture, above, saddens me so much? Why does it feel like the world turned its back on reading and literature—not just the method by which it was delivered to us? (Brick and mortar bookstores require climbing out of your bunny slippers and driving. Real-place bookstores require parking and standing in line. When I want the third book in the Hunger Games series, I want it NOW.) If anything, we’re all reading much more than before. We’re reading in line at theatres, in doctors’ offices, and even while waiting for traffic lights (well, maybe that’s just me). Now that whole libraries’ worth of reading material fit onto our smart phones and other e-readers, we’re reading every where. (And, now that there is no tell-tale cover of heaving bosums or pre-teen sci fi, no one can see what we’re reading either.) The sad, bare shelves aside, it isn’t reading we’re turning our backs on, even though that’s how it felt these last few weeks felt as we picked over the rumble sale that has been Borders Bookstore. It’s the community it afforded. Reading is a solitary pleasure but the big box bookstores gave us a steady stream of coffee and plush chairs and brought other bibliophiles together. They surrounded us with all the lush colors of one magnificent book cover after another—in fact rows and rows and stacks and stacks of them—the objects of our mutual desire. It was such a lovely little world. And for awhile it didn’t matter that we weren’t actually buying anything. I wonder, amid all the wondering of what the future of bookstores will be, if there might someday once again be a place to congregate—with coffee and plush chairs and other book lovers. Oh, that’s right…that’d be the Internet Book Clubs. And the coffee is chez vous and the plush chair is your living room couch. It’s just that, it seems to me, especially on top of the worry that my Boomer generation often confesses to about our children’s generation possibly having difficulty “connecting” in person, might this be another nail in the coffin of personal interaction?