Borders Bookstore Closes and the Internet Keeps Chipping Away at our Brains

I, like many of you, this week received email notifying me the Borders Bookstore would be closing. And, like many of you, I already knew that the bookstore was set to close it’s remaining 400 or so stores. What I didn’t know was that they would be offering me, and you, a new location to store and view our ebooks.

Last year (really not that long ago) Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains generated a lot of media buzz. Folks from all over the media landscape were talking about Carr’s book and the suggested implications. I bought the book via Borders eBook site. If you’re vaguely or even not familiar with the book, Carr’s premise focuses squarely on what the internet is doing to our brains. The germ of his book started as a piece for the Atlantic entitled, Is Google Making Us Stupid?

The Shallows question and answer session – what is the Internet doing to our brains? – is a puzzle that Carr sets out to unveil with a review of the media business at large. His review, however, quickly launches backward into history with – who else but – Marshal McLuhan.


The Medium is the Message

Early pages of the book help position the debate for Carr. Using McLuhan, Carr points out…

“McLuhan understood that whenever a new medium comes along, people naturally get caught u in the information-the “content”- it carries. They care about the news in the news in the newspaper, the music on the radio, the shows on the TV, the words spoken by the person on the far end of the phone line.”

In The Shallows Carr covers the advent of the printing press, and how mass-production of reading materials meant more people could read. He talks functionality of the brain, and presents studies that document the elasticity of the brain. He also uncovers developments in reading styles from early days when textwasallpushedtogether (bet you didn’t know about that? – I sure didn’t). In large, he writes about new methods to create, disseminate, and to consume information.

… Which brings me to this the second thing – the alternative we’ve been given.

When Border’s sent me (and you) that email they did something upstanding. They recognized that they had a contract with us (it’s eBook purchasing public) for which they could (a) abandon like empty storefronts scattered throughout the country; or, they could (b) do their best to provide us with a seamless transition that would allow us to continue to enjoy our purchases.

I’m happy to say, they went with option B.

In parting, they offer what appears to be a very nice platform for reading (and sharing) books online, Kobo. I have tried the site out and have even run through the catalog of free books. Though different, something about Kobo reminds me of audible.com.

Now, I’m only so comfortable reading books online, but I’m certainly going to give Kobo a shot. Much like Google’s book project, Kobo appears to have interest in helping us make the transition to read more online.

.. if you didn’t see it Border’s is having a Going Out of Business SALE!

Borders Books at 1807 Fordham Boulevard in Cha...
Image via Wikipedia

They messed up. Borders and Barnes and Noble’s were each at a turning point. Barnes and Noble’s decided to take the hard road. They created their own online book ordering system, along with the shipping and other headaches that can be a part of – not just a new initiative, but – an e-commerce business of their size.

Borders, on the other hand, decided to outsource their e-commerce, choosing fulfillment partners in Amazon (a potentially dangerous competitor?!). Hindsight now.

So Border’s is closing it’s remaining 400+ stores, including the one in my town of York, PA. I think that sucks, course I can only pay attention long enough to .. get another latte.

What are your thoughts ’bout any of this?

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