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The END of Bookstores

By Sharone Goldman in Opinion & Politics

“Please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away. And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall.”

Ring a bell? In his famous novel, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, Roald Dahl expresses vital views through lovable Oompa Loompas chanting about the woes of poor Mike TV.  The importance of reading, this catchy song proclaims, is priceless. Yet, distractors that the television, video games, arcades, and social media project onto society are irresistible. They are thoroughly addicting, entertaining, and pleasing. This is a culture where we cannot sit still, must always have plans for the weekend, always need our fingers lingering over a keyboard, eyes set on a movie, and headphones plugged into our ears. It is a society where we cannot be without mindless entertainment.

And books are losing their zeal. Fast.

Once Upon a Time, there was an amazing bookstore named BORDERS.

For avid book readers, like me, it was a haven. I would enter BORDERS after an intense day, sink into a comfy chair, grab multiple books, and read. I would decipher which book I liked best, and buy it. I loved the feel of a new book: glossy, flashy colors with cream-colored pages that smelt like ink. That night, I would dive into bed and read until my eyes itched with tiredness. Then I would read some more.

Through reading, you can trek towering mountains. You can be a wizard. You can rule a kingdom. You can visit Oz.  You can fall in love with a questionable, freaky vampire. You can engross yourself in the life of your favorite celebrity. You can gain knowledge about the ominous past. You can have an adventure, escape your miseries, and go into a fantastical world without even leaving your seat.

It’s that simple. It’s that incredible. Reading is the greatest privilege that humans possess.

And we are forgetting it.

BORDERS is shutting down. Not only are they selling fantastic pieces of literature at obscenely cheap prices, but they are selling the bookshelves, sofas, and everything that put together these quiet, warm, and fascinating places to read.

And instead of grieving this tremendous loss, consumers are taking advantage of the colossal discounts, spending twenty bucks for a hundred pens.

Why, does it seem, people are not missing the universe of books that we once had, so readily available at our fingertips? Sure, there are still many bookstores available. Are people not concerned they will spiral down the same path BORDERS went through?

Who needs to read, when important news is demonstrated through 1-minute YouTube videos? When movies contain mind-boggling special effects? When our lives are crazy, and isn’t it preferable to fall asleep while watching our favorite shows, instead of reading intricate literature?

With our first world lives, (which I totally appreciate, don’t get me wrong!), we love instant gratification. Hungry? Good thing there is left-over Ben Jerry’s in the freezer. Tired? Gulp down a mug of caffeine, and the morning becomes conquerable. Bored? Well, instead of reading, just tap that flashy new iPhone and enter the realm of Angry Birds.

Reading, it seems, is something of a dying notion. Or, at least, it is being reduced to bullets, 140 character tweets, ttly kul txts, and slanderous magazines.

For me, and many others, this is a tragedy. Humans are losing what helps them evolve, question, debate, ponder, detest, swoon, laugh, and cry.

Every story has a conclusion. I fear that the close of bookstores might be something like this:

And so, it became an accepted fact in first world culture that reading no longer held the value it once had. Bookstores surrendered themselves to TV shows like Jersey Shore, music by Ke$ha, and a million other outlets that don’t require thinking at all. Society was irreversibly addicted to instant gratification.

The End.

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