Thursday, July 21, 2011

Farewell to an old friend – for good

The first Borders bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Alas, I never got to go there.

Earlier this year, I lamented the loss of two local Borders stores. This week, the shoe has fallen off the other foot.

Borders Stores was unable to find a new investor, and so it will liquidate its assets and go out of business altogether by September 30th.

No more the joy of finding Rewards coupons in my e-mail: 20, 33, or even 40% off regular prices. (Those coupons were why I was able to afford new books, including hardcovers, relatively often.) No more the excitement of dropping by non-local Borders in Mission Valley and Santa Barbara and Westwood and Las Vegas, it was the cherry on top of the sundae called travel. No more the search at the kiosk for my new favorite book. (It’s not always easy to go up to an employee and ask for directions.) How many of the books in my collection were purchased at Borders? I remember every one.

When a small independent bookstore goes out of business, it’s like the fall of a single tree in the forest – a loss to be sure, but the other trees keep the forest strong. Now, a mighty chain – once 1200+ stores strong – is going to disappear. This says something about how we’re reading now.

Last year for my birthday, I received an Amazon Kindle. It has changed my attitude towards books. I have to say that unless a book has color pages (an exception that might go away when I get my iPad), or is unavailable on Kindle, I will probably be spending many more of my book dollars on e-books – perhaps the majority of them. When the independent stores went away, it forced readers to the chains; when the chains go away, more people will choose e-books.

I will never stop reading, of course. The loss of Borders, however, closes the door to a gateway to the magic world of books. That is worth mourning.

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