Two days ago I got an email from BookTour.com saying that they were shutting down their site. Borders bookstores have shut down for good. The market has changed. Readers often have a better in-home experience than they have in-store. Authors are available via their Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, or websites. It’s not cost-effective to tour out in public anymore. Blog tours now rule. Kids can meet an author over Skype. Nobody has to leave home if they don’t want to.
It’s almost a resurgence of the days when authors could be reclusive, pale artists hunched over their desks. Only now in addition to working on their manuscripts, they also have to maintain an online presence. But there’s no sun required, and being charming and gregarious is a matter of choosing the right words, something writers are already good at.
Readers can choose to be nearly as reclusive, getting their books delivered directly to their homes, or wirelessly on ereaders.
So as writers stick to their desks and readers consume from the couch, I have to wonder if this is a good time for books. The Daily Show did a report on the Borders closings and had some ideas for bringing both readers and authors back into bookstores. Don’t laugh. It might come to that.