Archive for Losses

Maurice Sendak, who I had never read till today

Yes, I must have been the only person on the planet who had not read anything Maurice Sendak read. So when I heard that he had died two days ago, I understood what he meant to so many people and recognized that his passing was a loss, but it didn’t affect me personally.

But I heard so many parents talk about his book, Where the Wild Things Are, that I had already decided I should find it an read it. So imagine my delight when one of my Facebook pals recommended this video, with Christopher Walken reading the book. It’s very entertaining–though perhaps not entirely in ways that Mr. Sendak originally intended.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Sendak! And I will catch up–promise.


Farewell, Britannica

This makes me quite sad: Bye Bye Britannica!

I used to skip phys ed in high school and read poetry or the encyclopedia in the library. My aunt had a 1955 version of the Encyclopedia, in a special two-shelf bookcase, with a slot in the back where a huge atlas stood. It looked exactly like this, except that the wood was darker (see farther below):

My beloved Britannica

I loved my aunt’s set with a mad love. And then one day — she gave it to me.

I was deliriously happy. I moved several times over the years, and that set went with me everywhere. Even though by the time she gave it to me, of course it was long out of date. Who cared? I loved it.

And then, twelve years and three weeks ago — I moved to Toronto. I gave away a ton of stuff between the Near Year and March 1st, when I was to fly, and packed up the rest and put it into a rented storage compartment. And my beloved encyclopedia set didn’t fit.

I tried everything I could think of. No library would take a set that old. No second hand bookstore was remotely interested. I didn’t have a vehicle, so I couldn’t try to take it farther afield.

In the end, on the day that I left my apartment for the last time, there was only one option left. The entire set went into the dumpster. It absolutely broke my heart, but there was nowhere else I could put or take it. It was devastating.

And now the hard copy of the dear Encyclopedia Britannica will be no more, at all. More than ever, I miss my old set and wish it had been humanly possible to keep it and preserve it. 🙁

Encyclopedia Britannica

Encyclopedia Britannica, I miss you

Borders’ Closing Affects Canada’s Indigo/Kobo Too

Kobo e-reader

Kobo e-reader

With the news that Borders Books is shutting down, I had another question at the back of my mind yesterday: what happens to Kobo, the inexpensive e-reader produced mainly via Indigo Books, but in which Borders was a minor investor?

The Quill & Quire blog provided an update today: Kobo issues statement about Borders liquidation. Borders apparently has an 11% stake in Kobo, and there are conditions around the shares which may prevent them from being liquidated in quite the way people want to do. So Kobo has filed objections (along with other creditors) in U.S. bankruptcy court.

I also wondered what would happen to registered Kobo customers. But Kobo has already been gradually trying to transition their accounts directly to Kobo and away from Borders, so it sounds like everything will still function for these people the way it’s supposed to.

What a mess. And adding this extra financial stress onto Kobo is just one of the almost countless ripples flowing out from the Borders dissolution.


Farewell to Borders Books

Borders bookstore Detroit AirportThis news is kind of awful, coming right on the heels of yesterday’s post about bookstores closing. Remember how I speculated that the big chains may well fade away and disappear, while smaller, independent bookstores might actually survive and eventually thrive again?

Well, unfortunately, we’re one step closer to testing the theory. It’s probably not a total surprise, after Borders filed for bankruptcy in February, and closed a bunch of stores. But now, according to this NPR article (Bye Bye Borders: What The Chain’s Closing Means For Bookstores, Authors and You) it’s official: the chain is closing altogether.

This isn’t just a devastating blow to the store and its thousands of employees (though it really is an awful blow to them). It’s a huge blow to its creditors — and I’m not just talking about the people the stores owed rent to, or owed payments for office supplies. Among its creditors are some big publishing houses. Which means that the chain closing has just weakened the already tested foundations under most large publishing houses in North America. They themselves are now affected financially.

Which, in turn, will affect an awful lot of authors. Yes, there’s always self-publishing, which can be a lot of work, and many authors don’t have the resources or the stamina to do the sort of publicity and distribution that a lot of the big publishing houses still did. Plus — those publishing houses had editors. A huge lot of self-published books really, really need editing. If they don’t go through an editor, there’s often nobody there to tell the author, “This paragraph stinks,” or “This is a superfluous character, and excising him/her from your manuscript will make it so much better.”

So authors have lost a lot as a result of this bookstore chain closing. I’m afraid we haven’t yet begun to see just how far the ripples of this loss will travel. I really worry about where the industry is going.

Alas, poor Borders. We’ll miss you.


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