Saturday, March 19, 2011

Farewell to a good friend (part 2)

When I went to the Tustin Borders last month, it had still not started its liquidation process, and thus still looked neat inside. When I went to the Orange Borders (at the Block), those dreaded “Everything Must Go” signs were already in the window – and I should have known what that meant.

The store was all but gutted inside. Whole shelves were denuded of books, the magazine section had nothing left but the ones people don’t want (including Grit – it’s been decades since I’ve seen an issue of Grit), and the once-charming Paperchase section felt more like an abandoned ghetto.

I remember watching with eager eyes as this store rose from the ashes of the old City Shopping Center. I passed by it to and from work, hoping that the store would open soon so I would have a more convenient book-buying experience. And once the store opened, it was great to stop after work, especially when it was after nine p.m. and I wanted to reward myself after a hard day. (Books or not, I never want to commute after 9 p.m. again.) The Block had other places to enjoy, such as the now-closed Hilo Hattie, the now-closed Virgin Megastore, the AMC movie theater, CafĂ© Tu Tu Tango, and Koji’s Shabu Shabu restaurant. But it was the Borders which kept me coming.

It was a downer of a shopping experience. I did not find what I was looking for, most notably the March/April 2011 issue of Writer’s Digest, which had some important freelance information. The one thing I might have purchased was this exercise video, “The Flat Belly Workout”:

But at the time, it was that or the Writer’s Digest issue, and the Writer’s Digest would potentially lead me to hundreds if not thousands of dollars of income, so…I went to the nearest Barnes & Noble to purchase it.

Now, Barnes & Noble is not having stores liquidated. It is still a functioning bookstore, and coming there after leaving the Borders was like seeing the difference between the Getty Museum and the average Greyhound station. If you don’t believe me, go into the closest B&N. Especially if you live in Glendale. The three-story B&N at The Americana at Brand is a book palace, worth saving to shop in.

I used to think that it was a poor marketing practice for B&N to charge $25 per year for its rewards card, while the one for Borders was free. Now I think this is just another case of “you get what you pay for.”

I can still shop at Borders – the one at South Coast Plaza is now the nearest one to me, and I can always go online as well. But without the stores in Orange and Tustin, it will no longer be as convenient.

P.S. I went back to the Orange Borders when I had money to pay for the “Flat Belly Workout,” and it was gone. It bothered me more than it should have. I did want to buy one last thing here, but I could not think of anything else I wanted here, and the store was even more empty than it was the last time. So I walked out of the doors, most likely for the very last time.

I think of the old saying, “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to buy so many great books at these two stores, even as I know that because of my Amazon Kindle (and the iPad I plan to get), my book-buying habits are going to be different from now on. I see myself buying more e-books and less physical books, even in functioning B&Ns. My bookshelves will be full of old favorites and books that don’t translate well in e-form (such as art books), while everything else hides in my e-readers.

Books will always be with us, just as music will. It’s only how we connect with books that will change. And that’s OK.

1 comment:

  1. A fine tribute, Jennie...and your photos capture exactly what I saw here last weekend at our local Borders. What saddened me the most was my encounter with the wonderful, sweet girl who checked me out. I was reminded again how unfortunate this is for all the Borders employees who have lost their jobs, and I was once again angered at poor management skills of the decision-makers at this company, who could have avoided this had they made similar choices to those made by Barnes & Noble.

    I wrote about this and the upside of this otherwise sad development in my recent column, "What the Borders Closings Mean for Readers and Authors" on ( I think your experience and feelings as both are illustrative of what I said in that piece.

    Thanks for moving and interesting post!