All right, coppers. You’ve got me. I did it. I killed Borders.

Not all by myself, of course. I had some help. A guy can’t kill a 399-store chain of bookstores and put 10,700 people out of work all by himself. But I grew up Catholic, so if there’s guilt to be assigned, lay it on me. I’m used to it.

Yes, I sometimes buy books at I’ll buy ’em at Costco or Target, too, if they’re cheap enough. I get a lot of books from the library. I haven’t actually bought a Kindle or a Nook or another e-reader yet, but I’m thinking about it.

I borrowed an iPad and used it to read the e-version of Edmund Morris’ “Colonel Roosevelt.”

I hate to admit it, because I’m a print guy and we’ve got our own challenges adapting to the digital world, but I liked it. I liked not having to hold a 784-page, 2.7-pound book in my lap. I liked being able to bump up the type size so I didn’t have to squint. So sue me.

Here’s my worst crime: Sometimes, when I have a couple of hours to kill, I’ll go to Borders and buy a cup of coffee and read one of its books without paying for it. Sometimes it takes me two or three trips, but I’ll read the whole book. Hey, they’ve got coffee. They’ve got chairs. They’re asking for it.

I’m always careful not to spill coffee on it, and sometimes I assuage my guilt (see above) by buying books off the remainder table, but it never costs nearly as much as the book I read for free.

Who knew this was murder?

If there’s any industry that does more navel-gazing over its future than my own, it’s book publishing. This is only natural — writers and editors tend to be mopes and brooders with access to mass media.

Thus, there was a lot of angst last week when Borders announced that it was going out of business. It had declared bankruptcy and whacked a third of its stores in February, but the white knight never appeared.

If you do a Google search for the phrase “death of the book,” you get 79.1 million hits. Of course, by doing so, you are capitulating to the Internet, the monster that’s creating the problem. But whining about it makes you a 15th-century scribe complaining about Gutenberg and his damned printing press.

There’s no consensus over how much longer books can last. MIT futurist Nicholas Negroponte said last August that digital books would be the dominant form in five years. Other experts give the physical book another eight to 10 years, suggesting that printed books today are where Kodak film was in the mid-1980s. Still others say books — particularly now that they can be published on demand — will be around for a long time, perhaps as a niche product for an increasingly small “reading class.”

For all of that, and for all of my personal guilt, it’s not clear how much the “death of the book” had too much to do with the death of Borders. Other factors were over-expansion, slow adaptation to e-commerce, failure to develop its own e-reading device, too much inventory, too much reliance on music sales and even the coffee it served — Barnes and Noble had Starbucks; Borders had Brand X.

In its heyday, Borders accounted for about 12 percent of the books sold in America. Barnes and Noble (which now accounts for 30 percent of book sales), and independent booksellers (10 percent) will pick up some business. Amazon will pick up most of the rest, either in paper or Kindle versions, which now outsell physical books on its site.

The scariest thing about all of this is how little it matters to an increasing number of people. In 2007, the National Endowment for the Arts reported that the rate of reading for pleasure was down among all age groups, but particularly among younger Americans.

Nearly half of people ages 18 to 24 read no books for pleasure. Among college seniors in 2005, 61 percent said they either didn’t read for pleasure at all or did so for less than an hour a week.

The study’s critics said it underestimated the power of Web-based reading. And since 2007, the advent of devices like smartphones, Kindles, iPads and Nooks may have helped broaden reading. It’s really not the platform that’s important, it’s the ideas.

You have to hope that’s what’s happening, because study after study has shown that people who don’t read, people who get their information from television and quick-and-dirty Web presentations, are far less likely to understand nuance and subtlety among ideas. Preconceived belief replaces skeptical inquiry. The search for truth gives way to comfortable myths.

This would explain a lot of things.