Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A sad time for book lovers as Borders shuts it's doors

It's been no secret that the Borders book store chain has fallen on hard times,due to mismanagement and the economy,but this weeks heralds the final blow to their business as the remaining 399 locations will be closed by the end of September.

This leaves about 11,000 employees out of work,several publishers both big and small not getting paid and a good chunk taken out of the physical book distribution market. A sad situation all around that also includes readers for whom Borders was their only option for book shopping in their area:

As someone who did shop at Borders on occasion(the only one closest to me was a hour long bus ride away),I am sorry to see them go. From the moment that I entered the store for the first time,I could tell that this place was special.

The atmosphere and layout of the floor had a library style tone to it,with a selection of books that was clearly different from the average chain.

Their section of books about literature,for example,was in the midst of the fiction section with subdivisions for poetry,plays and a whole portion dedicated to Shakespeare alone. Books that were hard to find or even order could be easily found upon the shelves,as if they had been waiting for you all along.

Also,as a former bookseller whose store did close(two years after I left their employ),my heart goes out to the clerks and other staff being thrust out into the brutal job hunting world now in place these days. From some of things I've heard and read,working at Borders wasn't all sunshine and roses but even a bad day at work has it's moments to remember fondly:

For some,the shutting down of Borders is a business opportunity and while I don't begrudge anyone willing to supply the services that many local book lovers counted on these stores for(not to mention folks picking up bargain buys at the liquidation sales),there are a few indie folks out there who find this news a reason to rejoice.

Here's a quote from a bookstore owner in Chicago,who to be fair has had to deal with direct competition from Borders over the years,that illustrates this(full article here):

“Now we have this behemoth off our backs,” she said. “It’s not the politic answer to say that inside, there’s a little happy bookseller who’s jumping up and down.”

While I understand her reasons for saying that,her statement does have a bit of dancing on the grave vibe to it. I would like to remind all of you that Borders did start out as an independent book store and that while they did spread out a lot further than ,say,Powells' or The Strand,their initial model was that of a college town type of store that supported authors as well as the community. Their current situation should secure your compassion,not your ridicule:

The closing of any book store is a sad affair and I hope that some good can come from all of this. There are many lessons to be learned here,to be told by savvy souls that I but I do say this;the passing of Borders is a story that won't be soon forgotten by book lovers and business people alike:


Number9 said...

I don't know about that last clip. That scene from You've Got Mail seems more in support of those who are glad to see Borders close. The woman in the film had after all lost her nice, established neighborhood bookstore to the competition from a store exactly like Borders. I would never applaud the loss of jobs, but I don't mourn the loss of the kind of store Borders has become. The one closest to us isn't anything like a library, it's full of toys and videos, and they have hardly any books versus what I have come to think of as a bookstore. Almost every time I've been there to find a specific title, it hasn't been in stock. Last time I had to go to Barnes and Noble because I didn't have time to wait to order it.

lady t said...

I get what you mean about the clip,Number 9,but it was the best one that I could find regarding the subject at hand.

You're right about how Borders has changed over the years,with more and more sideline items. The Borders that I used to frequent closed down long before their big financial problems kicked in,so I still have some fond memories.

It's funny,for a while there Barnes and Noble was scrambling to be more like Borders(in terms of stock and store layout)and now they're the ones on top. Maybe B&N will hire some of the out of work Borders people,going full circle as it were.