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Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014

It's a shame Borders Bookstores are closing

Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2011, at 12:01 PM

The decline was evident, but it didn't prevent the knot in my stomach when I opened my e-mail and read the obituary.

When visiting the last few times before the announcement, the atmosphere was somber and the shelves looked sparse, but who would have thought it would be this climatic?

The letter stated there was a valiant fight but went on to say, "As I'm sure you've heard by now Borders (bookstores) will be closing its doors after more than 40 yeas of igniting the love of reading in generations of customers. ... The fact is that Borders has been facing headwinds for quite some time, including a rapidly changing book industry ..."

Being a lover of book stores, especially Borders (and I will explain that later), somehow, I felt the letter was personally sent to me.

No matter what kind of a mood I'm in, when I walk into a book store, I feel the embrace of warm arms reaching around me as I wander the aisles of another world looking at hundreds of stories over which authors have painfully labored that are just waiting to jump off the shelves to be read.

At one time, I even dreamed of having a bookstore and pictured it like the cozy "shop around the corner" -- that Meg Ryan owned in the movie "You've Got Mail," or even the one in "Notting Hill" where Julie Roberts wandered in and ignited a romance with Hugh Grant.

One time in the many phases of my life, I even placed a deposit on a charming little Victorian house and planned to fill it with books.

However, my brother, whom I lovingly call the cynic, advised me that I would be so busy curled in a corner reading latest editions that the business would fall along the wayside.

Whether the advice was cynicism or reality, I listened and gave up the grand idea of being an entrepreneur and kissed the deposit goodbye.

I'm sure he gave that advice since my family always reminded me that I could be cheaply entertained for hours on end by just turning me loose in a bookstore.

Now back to being partial to Borders. I frequently visited the very first Borders Bookstore in the country that was located on State Street in Ann Arbor, Mich. Two University of Michigan students opened the store in an old warehouse. I watched it grow as the business skyrocketed.

The mother store was a book lover's dream with numerous aisles of classics, new releases, history and biographies. Name it, and it was there. They were one of the first to add couches on which to lounge while reading and drinking lattes'.

That first Borders venture became the second largest book-selling chain in the country with 399 stores employing 19,000 people. Who would have thought it would be closing its doors?

One of the reasons for its demise is technology. Readers would rather hold a cold, plastic gadget with words flashed on a screen than to caress ink-filled pages smelling of new print and paper. Once read with e-readers, there are no colorful book covers tucked on shelves reminding of hours whisked away from present reality.

As long as they're for sale, I will continue to caress a book held in my hand that can later join others scattered around our house in the bookcase, on the coffee table or on the floor beside my bed.

They surround me like friends that have given me hours of enjoyment taking me to the world of historical eras, romantic encounters, and suspenseful dramas.


Comments
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The biggest reason for Borders' demise is classic bad business practices. Technology didn't really do the damage that bleeding money, poorly trained staff, and selling items to the wrong market did.

As far as e-readers go. Have you ever tried one (with an e-paper display)? Not just looked at one in the store, but have you read a book on one? They're easier on the eyes and have a warmer look than a good deal of new books I've read recently. Please don't judge them until you give them a full try.

-- Posted by per moenia urbis on Wed, Aug 17, 2011, at 2:16 PM

I feel the same way about book stores closing. I also enjoy browsing through the aisles of books and seeing what is being written about and who is writing them. But I also see technology moving into this area and making a difference. The amount of paper that can be saved by not printing books, but electronically creating is substantial. The amount of fuel saved by not transporting books around the world is also substantial. I also feel that with the reduced cost books will become cheaper to buy and thus open the door for people to read who would not have been able to afford it in the past. Another side benefit I see is that a book cannot change its font size, but an electronic book reader can. So as I get older I can still enjoy an old book that my eyes would have otherwise prevented me from reading. Just my two cents.

-- Posted by bhobbs on Thu, Aug 18, 2011, at 7:07 AM

"books will become cheaper to buy and thus open the door for people to read who would not have been able to afford it in the past. "

I thought that's what libraries are for.

-- Posted by Cousin Eddie on Thu, Aug 18, 2011, at 3:19 PM

Cousin Eddie you are right, but libraries are sometimes not availble or do not have the book available. I think libraries will be around longer than book stores though, but I also think that they need to start thinking of the future too.

-- Posted by bhobbs on Thu, Aug 18, 2011, at 5:24 PM

Borders had excellent real estate locations, but tended to have stores that were too big and overall had too much overhead. If you're in business, you have to be nimble.

-- Posted by The Raven on Fri, Aug 19, 2011, at 8:41 AM

when the one in bloomington was in it's hey day..

they had readers and performers for kids on fridays. the coffee shop had musical performers and the place was buzzing with good vibes. these activities went away and so did the customers and

inventory.

-- Posted by isaacorlando on Wed, Aug 24, 2011, at 10:09 AM


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