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Bye Bye Borders!

Well, guys. It’s been reported in just about every major news outlet that Borders will soon be shuttering their remaining stores for good (unless Books-A-Million comes through on a bid). So far, I’ve seen a little rejoicing, a bit of sadness and a lot of indifference. Whether you’re Team Independent Bookstore or Team B&N/Amazon/etc, can we all agree that it’s a bit of a sad day for readers? I think R.L Stine’s tweet about this hit the nail on the head, at least for me. “The closing of the Borders stores leaves thousands of unemployed workers– but also millions of unemployed books. A tragic day.”

Now, I will grant you that my emotional attachment to Borders waned after five years of employment, especially while watching the proverbial ship sink (I bailed in 2008). But when I stopped to put aside the whole “closing of a major corporation who made shitty decisions” aspect of this story, I found myself truly saddened. All of the wonderfully brilliant and amazingly literate friends I’ve made over the years (some of my best!) are now going to be out of work and that, I think, is the worst part.

Whether you’re for or against the bookstore giants, let’s hear your thoughts. I know fans of good ol’ Borders 368 will be as saddened by this news as I am. (I love you guys!)

Oh, and you’ll probably have to pre-order/buy Chris’s book somewhere else now. So, remember that.

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23 comments

  • As an American who lived abroad his whole life, coming back to the states for the summer, book stores were one of the first places that I would go to feel at home. These were mainly indi places, but Borders was at the top of my list of chains. Its a shame due to bookstores being my fortress of solitude.

  • I work at one of the NYC stores, and though none of us were in love with the company, many of us found a family among our coworkers. Many of my best friends I only discovered within the past two years of my working there. More so than losing the job, more so than the soul-sucking liquidation process that will ensue around the country, I think most of us can agree it’s the community and bonds we formed among the stacks that we’ll regret losing the most.
    In the next couple of weeks, I challenge nerds, geeks, and regular old booklovers: go into one of the closing Borders without the expectation of buying anything. Make friends with a bookseller, or two. I say this with no hubris: we are an amazing collection of people who could use a commiseration partner with what’s to come…

  • It is kind of sad, because I used to like to hang out there, even if perusing magazines while cozying some rather overpriced coffee. But from the point of view of one of those who prefer the texture of a print tome over anything that can be downloaded over the series of tubes, this may be an opportunity for local retailers to step back in. I, for one, have been spending much more time in used book stores and (GASP!) the library. It’s cheaper, too.

    @ Ben Clarkson: try looking in used book stores or game shops for D&D stuff. I’ve been picking up a lot of minty 1st and 2nd Edition AD&D at a local used book store lately (they have a lot of new WoC stuff too, but I’m strictly old-school).

  • I have a tiny bit of attachment to Borders because it was where my cousin always took me to HP launch parties starting when I was 12 and ending when I was 17.

    On the other hand I’m a bigger fan of independent and used bookstores (my father owns a small business so I’ve been taught to appreciate them.) Thankfully my city has plenty of options to choose from in terms of small as well as large box stores.

  • I’m of mixed feelings about bookstores closing. I like many others here loved going into book stores, the smell of paper and the tactile feel of a new unopened book is just somthing special. But at the same time I got an e-reader last year in november and haven’t bought a real physical book since.

    For the simple fact that it has opened up my reading horizons. I have bought books for it that simply do not exist in bookstores anymore because they are out of print. I have bought books that my local bookstores would never have carried and I can get it all instantly.

    I hate to see people lose their jobs and I hate to see bookstores close but honestly I think it can only do the industry good. The publishing industry it’self needs a solid kick in the pants and the start to the downfall of brick and mortar stores is the first step in that. I can only hope that with this sad day in the world of books can be the start of a new day for writers, readers and every one who stands in between them.

  • I’m so ambivalent about this. I’m the type of person who can make an afternoon out of visiting a book store, and my local Borders was often the place I would do this. There are some very real qualities that a b&m bookstore can offer that amazon can’t, such as the experience of just grabbing a few books and magazines and chilling out. Yes, libraries can offer the same, but the state of our public libraries is another topic altogether.

    On the other hand, Borders was run terribly. While their book prices were not overly expensive, their music and movie prices were hilariously expensive. They also made little or no effort to embrace the digital revolution in media. So I agree with the above commenter who said this is just the market working.

    Still, I never want to see a world without physical bookstores and I hope these issues that the bix boxers are having will open the door for mom&pop and small niche bookstores again.

  • My local store closed back with the first round of closures. I got to meet some great people over the years. I’m sad for those employees that will be out of a job soon but I wasn’t shocked over the news.

  • Just wanted to point out that those millions of books were already unemployed… the last few times I’ve gone, I couldn’t find anything I wanted to read that seemed worth the price. Certainly not the end-table, large print encyclopedia of trinkets or whatever, or the dozens of calendars depicting cats or cartoons. Maybe something in there existed that I would have loved, but it was underneath the pile of crap.

  • My issue with borders is their prices. Even with their going out of business sales, their music and movies were more expensive than anyone else’s regular price. While I am sad to see people lose their jobs, Borders was not able to adapt to the changing times.

  • While I agree that amazon is an easier, cheaper way to buy the fact remains about 11k people are about to lose their jobs laegely because of the convenience provided by the internet. As this continues to happen,the question remains where are the long term jobs going to come from to replace those lost.

  • I am not at all sad to see them going; technology is moving past any possible need for stores like theirs. With the ease that books can be bought online (physically or downloaded) there really is little need for this type of chain anymore. Makes me happy to see the giants that had no qualms about eradicating the small shops going under as they too are made obsolete.

  • I feel like, someday soon, I will have nowhere I can go and physically touch books before I buy them which saddens me. The smell of a bookstore–not the bookstore/coffee shop/bistro/massage parlor/frankenstein’s monster stores like Borders and B&N that exist now but a real bookstore–makes me smile for a reason I just can’t explain. Some day, all of these stores may disappear for the convenience of Amazon. Hold out mom and pop stores, you are my only hope.

  • Any bookstore going away makes me sad. The Borders attached to my office building closed earlier this year and I felt saddened by it for a few reasons. It’s where I went when I was having a bad day. I just felt better by wandering around the books and magazines. And because I was in there a lot, I was familiar with the sales staff, so the fact they were all losing their job was sad to me. And the fact that people would harangue them over sale prices or not being able to use Borders Bucks anymore just pissed me off. I mean, these people were losing their jobs, you can use your $5 online!

    That said, any company that stands by an archaic business model is bound to go the way of the dodo bird and deservedly so. I hope people find jobs quickly but watching them implode like that was painful and unnecessary.

  • Although Borders helped me get laid better than Spanish Fly and a sparkly vampire costume, I’m not sad to see it go. After watching the chain steadfastly refuse to effectively alter its business model after it was clearly suffering, it was like watching a very slow train wreck. I knew this was coming, and everyone else should have as well.

    If I’m sad about anything, it’s that nothing physical has appeared yet to take its place.

  • While I don’t feel good about people losing their jobs, every time another bloated and poorly run company dies its well deserved death we should be happy that the market is working. I once saw an analysis that Amazon’s logistics were so good Borders could have saved money by just ordering the books from them.

    The market has spoken: Borders is dead and we’re all better off for it (even the unfortunates forced out of work in a bad economy, I hope they find new jobs quickly.)

  • I grew up shopping at the Ur-Borders in Ann Arbor, MI. Back then, applicants had to take a test to demonstrate both broad knowledge of literature and a specific specialization. They were also the first book store (AFAIK) to install a comprehensive inventory management system- you could call, ask for a book, and they’d say “we have three copies, it’s on shelf X, and the last one we sold was two weeks ago.” This would have been the late 80s/early 90s, before the K-mart acquisition. Years later, I wasn’t surprised that the staff post-K-marting wasn’t as on top of things as they used to be (though the folks at my local store were still pretty sharp), I found the “we may have that, the inventory says 2 copies, but you never know, if it’s not on the appropriate shelf check the end-caps” approach to inventory management particularly maddening. Especially when Amazon could practically get a book to my house in the time that scavenger hunt took.