My mom killed Borders (and maybe music too)

Sad news in the headlines this week. We all mourn the passing of Borders Books, not just one of the last megabooksellers, but one of the last that also sold music. Who’s to blame? I blame my mom.

Yup, that dear sweet grandmother who can still kick ass on a tennis court is to blame. My mother is among the growing number of Americans who own and faithfully use an e-reader. She helped kill printed books. Is music part of her collateral damage? In the past, my mother, a voracious reader of all sorts of books, would purchase a huge number of softcover books before heading off on summer vacation. Usually, a whole suitcase was dedicated to her books.

An obvious target user for an e-reader, she picked one up a few years ago and she hasn’t looked back since. Only about 20.6 million Americans use e-readers. You wouldn’t think that’d be enough to topple a giant like Borders. It makes you think about just how few Americans are regularly purchasing books. It’s obviously not that many. I enjoy a good novel, but I rarely take the time to browse the shelves of my local bookstore, when Amazon is just a click away.

Borders is just another casualty in a world being dominated by downloading. And now that the Kindle (and sadly, my mom) have killed the bookstore, think about what it means for music albums. When Circuit City closed a while back, the CD industry was hit hard. There were still a few other places that people could physically walk into and buy an album, such as . . . Borders. Oops. Well, until now that is. Is this what finally kills the album?

When CDs came out, they almost killed the singles market. Really, who purchased those little CD singles? Anyone? Didn’t think so. Music execs rejoiced in the short term as albums sales soared, but things have made an about-face. Nowadays there are even groups that aren’t bothering with a whole album — they just release a few singles and hit the road.

A friend asked me the other day how many albums Lady Gaga has released. I’ve purchased several singles from Lady G, along with a few extended dance mixes, but honestly, I have no clue how many albums she has. Like most people, I pick and choose exactly what songs I want to buy on iTunes. Why buy a whole album when you really only want to hear the one single you heard on the radio or TV show? Sure, many albums are purchase-worthy, like the new Foo Fighters and anything by Gomez, but when you’re just looking for something to jazz up your workout playlist, picking and choosing by the single is the way most folks go.

What do you think? Have you contributed to the demise of the bookstore? The album? Tell us who’s to blame as these icons collapse.

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