After Borders made the announcement that they were filing for bankruptcy and closing 200 stores, my father asked me if I was going to give up writing. This was a rare conversation. I came from a non-reading family where the daily newspaper and a rare New York Times bestseller was the maximum threshold for reading material. When my father stayed with me for two months after being discharged from the hospital last year, he became bored because he had nothing to watch on television. (Over-the-air HDTV in Silicon Valley has many clear channels in different languages but none of the major networks in English.) I pointed to my personal library of 400 books. He told me he wasn’t that bored. Being a published writer secured my reputation as being the eccentric uncle in the family.
Does Borders closing 200 stores means the end of writing? Uh, no.
As I explained to my father, Borders having 200 fewer outlets to sell books may impact dead tree writers in the short-term. Independent bookstores have been going out of business for years—usually one at a time—without raising any questions about the general state of writing. With Borders closing so many stores over the next several weeks, the general public may conclude that the end is nigh for writing if they can’t walk into a big box bookstore to find the New York Times bestsellers lining the entrance.
Then again, they’re just ignorant Americans educated not to think too hard about anything or question the status quo around them. For serious readers and intellectual anarchists, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores are still around to fill the void.
As short story writer, I’m still writing short stories. I’ve seen many snail mail magazines go belly up during the Great Recession because they haven’t transitioned over to online submissions and selling their publications over the Internet. Many new magazines, anthologies and ebook publishers have popped up in their wake.
The challenge I have isn’t having enough places to submit my short stories but finding the right places that will accept and pay for my short stories. (Would the world have known about Shakespeare if he didn’t have any paying customers?) There are plenty of publications that accept short stories for free or contributor copies.
I’m encouraged to see some publishers are starting to pay for the first time or pay pro rates (i.e, $0.05USD or better per word). If for some reason I can’t place a short story somewhere, I can always make it available as an ebook and make a nice profit for myself. Writing is alive and well in my nick of the woods.
Anyone else being asked if they are giving up writing because Borders are closing stores?