David Streitfeld's insightful and ineffably melancholy Los Angeles Times article on the decline of book shops is well worth reading by anyone who loves to spend long afternoons paging through potential purchases in boutique-style independent stores or cozily funky second-hand outlets.
Money quote: "Technology changes behavior, which reshapes the physical landscape. The era of repertory movie houses playing Casablanca and High Noon ended with the VCR. The telephone booth was replaced by the beeper, which was made obsolete by the cellphone. And the newspaper is under siege by the Internet's ability to recombine and distribute news without leaving ink on your hands."
And: "Even in an entertainment-saturated age, people still buy books. But the casual reader has many other places to get bestsellers and topical books, from warehouse stores to the mall. Meanwhile, book nuts — the ones who simply must buy several volumes a week — are lured online. Few businesses can survive that lose customers from both ends of the spectrum."
Are megaplexes next on the endangered species list?