I really hated reading this today. Borders Books has been unable to find a buyer and so will go into liquidation. Over 11,000 people will lose their jobs, including some good acquaintances at the two Borders stores near me, wonderful people who have always been sweet and kind to me and my kids on our visits.
I’ve always been a champion of independent bookstores. I recognize that the rise of Borders (perhaps less so than the rise of Barnes and Noble) put many of those independent bookstores out of business. But I still find this very sad. A big-box corporate bookstore is still a bookstore. Many smaller towns and outlying suburbs had no bookstores at all until Borders moved in. And it has always been a pleasant place to hang out. I much prefer Seattle’s Best Coffee to Starbuck’s, so I enjoyed sipping coffee at my local Borders (or stores I would find out on the road) a lot more than grabbing a cup of “Char-bucks” at a Barnes and Noble.
I suppose this is part of Creative Destruction, the churn and storm un drang that are part of the workings of a capitalist economy. Borders killed off a lot of independent bookstores by offering more stock of more books at lower prices than most independents could match. Now Borders is being killed off by cannier competitors who are taking better advantage of new technologies than Borders seemed to be able to do. Someday, Amazon and Apple may be slain by younger, nimbler competitors in their turn.
But losing a bookstore, any bookstore, is always sad. And the country is about to lose four hundred of them.
I’ll be posting later today and tomorrow about the potpourri of places I used to buy books as a kid in North Miami Beach in the 1970s. A heck of a lot has changed in the book selling business since then. And a heck of a lot continues to change.