Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bye Bye Borders

Unless you've been living under a rock with that guy in the Geico commercial, you're well aware that Borders is going under. The chain book store filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February and proceeded to close out a slew of its stores across the country as a means to stem the bleeding money. Unfortunately it didn't work. When no one stepped up to make a bid for the dying company, the intended auction was scrapped and the intention to start liquidation was released. Starting Friday (as in this Friday, July 22), Borders will start clearancing out their stock. The stores will close as their stock runs dry, with all stores closing by September.

Despite the prospect of clearance-priced books (you're a big damn liar if you didn't think of that AT ALL), it's a seriously sad day in the book world because of this great chain closing. There's the laying off of nearly 11,000 Borders employees over the next several weeks, plus the intimation of what this could mean for print in general: if Borders can't make it, who can?

Indie book stores have been dropping like flies. Not only have they had to compete with the likes of chains like Borders and Barnes & Noble who could deeply discount their titles, they had to fight the online tide as well. Obviously, no one's immune to this. So with digital sales pushing out even the biggest chains, what's in it for the future of the book store in general?
I used to go to a little indie in my home town that I just loved called The Little Professor Book Store. I had my parents bring me there at least once a week, whether I bought something or not. I just loved looking at all those books. I even went to bookish events they held. Before I graduated high school they were out of business, unable to compete with the likes of Borders and BN (this is before digital reading so it wasn't even on the radar at this point). For a long time I fought the chains but with lack of options, and the internet not being the main means for much of anything at that time, I caved. I grew to love them. Whether it was Borders or Barnes & Noble, I always found a peace and contentedness whenever I walked into one of those stores. To know I'm going to be down yet another option saddens me like you would not believe.

I was never one to actually hang out at a book store, like drink coffee and sit and read. But it was comfort enough that the second I walked through those doors, I was surrounded by like-minded people. There aren't too many places you can go to get that. Not really. And now Borders will be leaving, another landmark fading from the landscape. Barnes and Noble stands alone and the indies must be scoured for. I find no enjoyment in browsing for books on the internet. It's just not the same. For all the people that still love print, the 80-something% that still prefer books to eBooks, where are they in this? The statistics aren't matching up for me. Convenience is replacing leisure.

Even if you were a loner like me and preferred to browse on your own, or if you were someone that sought bookie help whenever you could, be sure to leave a note of thanks for the Borders employees at #ThankUBorders. When you go to your local Borders to peruse their remaining stock (and don't you dare pretend to be high and mighty about it, no book lover can resist clearance books), thank the folks that are still there. They're the ones that helped feed your obsession, even if it was just stocking the shelves. They put all those pretty books out there for you to find. They were the pillars of Borders. So thank them.

Hopefully I won't live to see the day when it's nothing but a barren internet desert without a bookstore in sight.
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