Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I stopped in a Borders store last week, one of the many that are closing for good, now that the company has entered bankruptcy.  It was a sad state of affairs - just a bunch of people, like me, aimlessly looking for bargains on disorganized shelves, with no comfy chairs, no bathrooms, and no cafe.  Signs everywhere point to discounts and final sales, and indicate that even the fixtures will be for sale soon.  How different a sight from the good ol' days, when a store would be bustling, and it would be hard to find a (clean) table at the cafe.  And when we could finally pry a table away from our fellow cafe squatters, we would spend a few hours with a hot drink and a bakery treat, several books that we wanted to explore, and - of course - my favorite graphic novels.  It was one of our favorite ways to pass a quiet Sunday afternoon.

It's a bit ironic, after all, since Borders was seen as driving many of the smaller, independent bookstores out of business, only now to be driven out of business itself by online vendors and now e-readers.  And I'll admit to being one of those people who probably spent far too much time reading and browsing at Borders, and not buying.  Frankly, I can't remember the last time I actually bought a book at Borders, because, like everyone else apparently, I could find it on Amazon for a better price.  And it would be delivered to my door.

But I'm sorry that people will be losing their jobs, especially students for whom this gig represented much-needed income, and that it's because their corporate honchos couldn't keep up with the changing tide of the public's interest in books and e-readers.  I'm sorry that we've lost a place that we can regularly stop in on a winter's afternoon to leaf through a few pages of People/U.S. Weekly/In Touch serious investigative journals.  And I'm sorry we'll now be faced with the blight of large, empty stores that had once anchored retail malls across the country (although an Indiana-based electronics retailer is apparently eyeing many of the soon-to-be-shuttered Borders locations as a means to expand to Illinois).

Still, rather than actually spending any money, I was a bit surprised at how heartless I was in the sad, disorganized, discounted store the other day, because the first thing that went through my head was: "Only 20% off list price?  Come on, I can still get it cheaper online."

Ah, capitalism.


Stephen said...

Portland has a fabulous independent bookstore- Powell's City Of Books, that seems to be doing just fine. I was there today.
But, Bookstores seem to be going th way of record shops & it makes me sad... yet I still downmload music & I still buy from Amazon.
At least I still buy books!
My comfirmation word is HIMSUCKE.

Christopher said...

I've been toying with the idea of getting a Kindle, although I do like the tangibility of paper for the few books that I read every year.
*giggling sophomorically at your confirmation word* :)