Having been busy with my work-a-day routine, I hadn’t really focused on the fact that my oft frequented shopping centre – Chadstone – is now, following the closure of Borders and Angus & Robertson, bereft of a bookshop.
As I, like the rest of Melbourne, browsed this morning’s papers though, reality sank in with a clang as I read about the plight now facing our neighbours in Dandenong and realized that my local shopping centre – as enormous as it is – has had to face the same reality. The Age’s headline article “Dandenong: 140,000 people, no book shop. It’s not alone” spells out the cold hard facts.
While the jury is still out for me on whether I prefer hard copy books to eBooks, the reality is that I, like so many others of you out there, really enjoy getting my ‘fix’ of browsing the shelves of my local book shop. And that’s coming from someone who has spent the last 20+ years working in libraries! I’m the first to argue that libraries have an important role in both our schools and local communities, but sorry – they just don’t compare to the warmth of a small book shop.
As I reflect on the closure of so many book shops in both local shopping strips and shopping centres, I find myself thinking back to a fabulous blog post I read some time ago. (Grrr …. why didn’t I book mark it there and then?!!) The gist of the post was the impact of empty or non-existent book shelves on our children. Lost will be the sharing of our own childhood favourites with our children on our knees; lost will be the opportunities for our children to pick up a book at random and to delve between its covers to see what it has to offer; lost will be the opportunity for family members to incidentally see what or all that it is we busy ourselves reading.
Losing the opportunity to browse through shelves upon shelves in local book shops is a shame. It tempts me to throw out the call to others of you out there:
Interested in opening a book shop?
But ah ….. this delightful day dream is shattered by the reality of the hefty overheads. The costs are so high. The online competition so fierce. Publishers are struggling. And, as eBooks march into our lives, upturning much along the way, the reality sinks in.
But ….. but ….. maybe one of those remaining independent book shops will heed the call and will consider the possibility of expanding just a little so that book lovers like me can continue their love affair started so long ago?