Ever since I was a small child, going to a bookstore was more exciting than going to Disneyland. From the living-room sized, fluorescently lit boxes in suburban malls to the double- and sometimes triple-deck stores of the booming 90s, I have spent many a happy moment meandering around bookstores – even when I couldn’t buy that day.
Borders is one of my favorite bookstores – “one of” standing proudly in a long row of favorite bookstores of all kinds, from chain to independent to used. (I like bookstores that contain books I want to read.) I feel special pride when I have the opportunity to purchase from an independent bookstore like Latitude 33 in Laguna Beach or Small World Books in Venice, CA. However, these two stores are not conveniently close to me. It also helps that Borders has a free discount card (the Barnes and Noble card costs $25 per year) with which one can receive discounts of up to 40% off.
This week, Borders announced its bankruptcy and will close about one-third of its U.S. stores, including two that are close to home – the one in Tustin District (which opened not too long ago, in August 2007) and the one at the Block in Orange (I saw it being built on the way to and from work in 1998).
I feel melancholy about these closings. Even though these are not the only two Borders close to me, I believe I spent more time in these two. I can see a book on my shelves and remember (for the most part) exactly where I bought it. Many of my books came from the shelves of the Tustin and Orange Borders stores.
I also feel guilty. For the past couple of years, I haven’t been buying books at Borders as much as I used to – mostly due to financial reasons, but also because of my Amazon Kindle. These days, when I am able to buy a book, Kindle is my first choice – unless a book has colorful illustrations. (That may change when I get my iPad.)
Recently, I visited the Tustin store with a buy one paperback, get one more at 50% off coupon. As I walked toward the storefront, I expected gigantic red and white signs screaming STORE CLOSING, but they weren’t there (yet).
Inside, it looked normal for a weekday afternoon – not that many customers, shelves full of current books and magazines. I looked for the book The Anti-9-to-5 Guide by Michelle Goodman, but it wasn’t there. (A store fails, if only a tiny bit, when it doesn’t have what you want.) I did find Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson. I have a semi-official rule not to buy new books by deceased authors (because they get no royalties), but I couldn’t find it at the library and it’s not available on the Kindle, either. (I think this is the kind of book that needs to be read on paper in Times Roman font anyways, just like it appeared in 1966.)
Now for one more paperback to satisfy the coupon requirements. I had a hard time with this. I looked for a useful book, one about the Chicago Style of writing, but the one in the computer was a.) not in the store, b.) not in paperback, and c.) cost $65.00. I looked in a few of my favorite sections, Biography, Self-Help, and Sociology. (Notice the multiple books about food in the Sociology section.)
Then I scanned Literature, and was about to take home a small paperback copy of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (which, again, is hard to find in the library – and redundant because we have not one but two complete volumes of Shakespeare, but they’re hidden in our storage space), when I turned into the Spiritual section and found Creating Money by Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer. I remembered this title because SARK had talked about it in a radio interview with “Mary in the Morning”. It was not the kind of book I’d thought I’d find at Borders – but I was grateful for the miracle, as it were.
In the next few weeks, I will visit the Borders in Orange and buy something (and take pictures, too). Life goes on, and sometimes things and places you love just aren’t there anymore – you know this, Flex shampoo fans. But somehow, you’ll still find what you essentially need.