Sadness in the heart at Borders

Grave Goods - Ariana Franklin

Last Friday night, I finally got my lazy butt in gear and took my Borders gift card, with its $9.59 credit remaining, down to what was essentially the only bookstore in town.  I was hoping to pick up the second and third books in the Wheel Of Time series, since I just finished the first, and I figured I would see if anything else grabbed my eye, since I have no idea when I will get to visit an actual bookstore again.

Barnes & Noble has always been my favorite chain bookstore, and there is still one of those around, but it’s a twenty mile drive from where I live.  Since Borders is a mile away, it’s been my main physical, brick-and-mortar bookstore for a couple of years.  The place to go to browse…  and in my case, to weigh the joys of reading something against the cost to my bank account (I have a terrible time actually pulling the trigger on certain types of purchases for myself, and books and music are two of those things).  I’ve spent many hours in Borders and B&N, reading magazines, sitting down on the carpet and sifting through piles of books, separating the Not Sures from the Definitelys before I got into line, flipping through the CDs and wondering why the frick they were so expensive (moreso at Borders than at B&N for that one)…  yeah.

Bookstores are like books, in that they are like friends, and they are places where good memories have been created, even if I was by myself when they happened.  So while there was a whole lot of people there, I was saddened as I walked by the café area, which sat in the dark, lined with shelves of overstock.  The chalkboard that used to be a sort of daily specials sign read “Thank you all. Farewell!”  It was partially hidden by signs advertising prices for the fixtures, etc.

So yeah. It was sad.

I checked the fantasy section, and on the Robert Jordan shelf there were some stray books not on my list as well as something like fifteen copies of the latest Wheel Of Time novel.  In hardcover.  Signs around the store indicated that they are getting new stock every day, but I bet that there aren’t hundreds of mass market copies of old Wheel Of Time books just waiting to be bought – their restocks will probably be more Apollo Ohno books, or something.  I may check again, but my hopes aren’t high.

In the meantime, I picked up Ariana Franklin’s third in her series about Adelia, the 12th century Mistress of the Art of Death, entitled Grave Goods.  That’s been on my list for a while, and at 40% off, I grabbed it.  So I got to use my gift card after all.

Much has changed in ten years.  Sam Goody is gone, as are many chains and independent record stores, and FYE is a joke.  Borders is liquidating.  B&N is not going strong, although they’re still fighting, as are several smaller chains and indies.  Brick-and-mortar retail has either completely collapsed or is past its peak for physical media such as books, music, movies, and video games.  That’s ok – I’m not anti-digital – but for me it’s also a little sad when an old favorite closes up shop.  I guess it makes me more aware that I’m not getting any younger, and that there are some experiences in life that cannot be relived.

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2 Comments on “Sadness in the heart at Borders”

  1. Alex Wenckus says:

    Yea. Its a sad thing. In Portland we are still lucky as we have a number of independent book stores and record stores. But I am curious to know how well these places are doing themselves or how much longer they will be around.

    • Russ says:

      Hi Alex!

      I’m sure that many of them are having rough times. However, I read a news piece last December about how there were some indie bookstores getting into the electronic book business with kiosks in their stores and on their websites. This would theoretically allow them to expand their “inventory,” bring in more revenue, and give them some potential longevity. I certainly hope that that’s the case.


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