All the kids I knew growing up had cool parents who dropped them off at the mall, complete with a credit card for impulse shopping ease. My friend Sophia’s mom would joke with her, “Try not to spend too much, honey” as she opened her wallet and handed over that treasured piece of plastic. I’d stare at her with envy in my eyes, shooting virtual daggers at her very existence. Sophia would turn to me and say, “are you sure you can’t go?” And for a fleeting moment I’d fantasize about lying to my parents so I could spend the day with her. I imagined eating at Sabarro pizza, buying trendy clothes at the shopping boutiques, and flirting with boys by the penny-for-your-thoughts fountain. Despite that millisecond of mental rebellion, my inner “good-girl” moral code knew it was wrong, so I politely declined each time. (Damn you, conscience!)
My parents, on the other hand, were a different breed. They were (and still are, for that matter) bookworms, or “bookies” as I referred to them (I love the elusive “illegal” taste that word leaves in your mouth despite the fact that it couldn’t be farther from the truth). A book store represented a children’s “safe-zone” to both my mom and dad, so when a brand new Borders opened up down the street, they were ecstatic. After receiving my hundredth “no” for requesting a drop off at the mall, I gave into their Borders alternative. “Fine!” I mumbled in defeat. “Just please drop me off down the street so I don’t look lame.” My dad chuckled, told me I was being “silly” and grabbed the car keys. Dropping me off down the street was out of the question. It was always curbside service.
From the moment I walked in their automatic doors, there was something about the smell of Borders that I found calming. It was a mixture of recently bound books, fresh coffee concoctions prepared by the baristas in the back, and the mild scent of lemon pledge. Employees paced the store greeting customers, offering assistance, and making suggestions with a smile. It was immaculate like a museum, yet it felt like a house I’d lived in for years. And there, on my very first visit, I fell in love. To hell with smelly malls and crowded movie theaters, my parents were onto something!
As with countless others, you can imagine my disappointment when I heard my beloved Borders Books and Music was going out of business. I bought my first (official) diary there, listened to Hole’s Live Through This album on repeat (the store clerks never said a word!), and sat for hours skimming fashion magazines, reading classic novels, and true crime thrillers. I saw my first naked man flipping the pages of a photography book there, for god’s sake. Well, it was either that, or Harvey Keitel in The Piano. I’m not sure. But most importantly, I now understand how those young Harry Potter fans feel – the closure of Borders is like the death of my childhood. (Insert sad face here)
As it stands, Borders began liquidating their remaining 399 stores this past Friday. Sadly that leaves their 10,700 employees in a less than savory spot. So where do we go from here? Are bookstores going to evaporate over the next few years while everyone converts to the land of Kindles and e-textbook rentals? I’m pretty sure I just heard Circuit City roll over in their grave (May they rest in peace). No one knows what the future holds, but just as Netflix conquered Blockbuster, I’ll bet that virtual page flipping is going to dominate what’s left of our book stores. So much for cruising bookshelves, skimming titles while sipping on a latte, and taking in the sweet aroma of the printed page. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to enjoy these simple pleasures while I still can. Au revoir, Borders. You had me at ‘Books and Music’.
How many doctors does it take to screw in a light bulb? How many authors does it take to write a book?
When I contemplate the process an author goes through while writing a book, my mind starts wandering. In this daydream of mine, they’re tucked away in an isolated cabin, frantically slamming on the keys of a vintage typewriter, surrounded by empty coffee cups. Meals are skipped, cigarettes are chain smoked and finger
nails are chewed upon. They work tirelessly through the night, often pacing with a glass of scotch in their hand. Did I mention they’re wearing a robe, too? Ok, ok… You get it. And I think I hit some classic stereotypes there too. My point (yes, I have one) is that the accuracy of the aforementioned stereotypes doesn’t matter, just the theme: Authors traditionally write alone. But who’s to say that’s the only way?
It’s hard enough for my friends to agree on a restaurant for dinner, let alone agree on the direction of a book. Everyone has something to contribute. So when I read an article about No Rest for the Dead, a novel written by twenty-six writers, I immediately wanted to high five them on their successful group effort. Collaborative writing is nothing new to BookRix. In February 2011, we brought SocialBook to life. If you’re not familiar with it, you’re missing out. SocialBook allows writers to work cohesively on an e-book, regardless of their location on a map. Still skeptical? Give it a chance -it’s simpler than it sounds.
Let’s say you’re trying to write a recipe book on authentic Brazilian cuisine (try not to drool on your keyboard). Make it easy on yourself and create a SocialBook on the topic – its fool proof. Now comes the fun part – open the door by inviting your Facebook friends and Twitter followers. It’s like a party, but without the cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Those in your network that share your passion for food can contribute by providing ideas, commenting on your work and rating your progress! Think about it- when you work alone, your book takes a break when you take a break. When you work with SocialBook, it’s active even when you’re not. Our application has a rad #hashtag feature that allows direct feeding from Facebook and Twitter, so your friends don’t even have to log on! Simply create a hashtag unique to your book (example: #Kimskickassbrazillindishes). Now all your friends have to do is reference that #hashtag in their comments, suggestions, etc., and voila! You’re in business.
In a world that waits for no one, it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening. At BookRix, we’re confident this is the next step towards innovative collaborative writing. Gone were the days of lonely writing and solitary confinement. Literary collaboration is where it’s at. It’s like book club, only better because you’re all working towards the same goal. A finished product! Don’t be the last author standing in your robe, holding a bottle of bourbon. Let others join in on the terrycloth festivities. I can hear the virtual clinking of glasses already. Don’t forget to toast!