Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm glad I don't work in retail anymore.

When, as I scarf down take-out General Tso's, I see on the 6:30 news that 160,000 stores will have closed by the end of this year, and another 200,000 by the end of next year, I feel lucky that I no longer work in retail.

Mind you, I miss working in a bookstore. I loved being surrounded by books; and when I left my last retail/bookstore job, it was to work in a library. But this weekend, I got an email from Borders about their Sacramento store going out of business; now, I don't live in Sacramento and the nation-wide email was an accident on the company's part, but I'm not surprised to hear about bookstores--even a chain--closing. Philadelphia's loosing/lost Robin's, and I'll be surprised if that's all.

I think it's seeing bookstores go out of business that gets to me. Books are my passion--they're what I spend most of my waking life pursuing. I love books, both what knowledge or entertainment they contain, and their physical forms--the simple portability of a paperback; the gold runes on my leather-bound copy of The Hobbit; the reprint of Aubrey Beardsley's illustrations for Le Morte d'Arthur I found over in Glastonbury. I even like the idea of e-readers (I say "idea" because I don't actually own one, but wish I did)--the idea that I can (potentially) carry around my library in a little machine is really seductive for me, and it's only the lack of money keeping me from buying it (that, and I hear the Kindle needs a little more work).

Anyway, the economy is bad, and focusing on bookstores seems almost irrelevant. But in Philadelphia we're having trouble keeping the public library branches open though there's hope on that front. Literacy is so important, and books the medium, that--not to be overly dramatic, but--it breaks my heart to see stores closing.