I’m sad about the Borders bankruptcy. Really, I am.
The Borders bookstores were the first really big box bookstores I ever shopped in, and since the pilot store was on East Liberty in Ann Arbor, Michigan, located just 30 minutes from my house, I feel quite a powerful sense of ownership with the Borders brand.
Although honestly, the Ann Arbor store was not my first Borders experience.
The Novi, Michigan, store which opened circa 1983, was the first major bookseller I ever visited. Honestly, before that Borders store opened in Novi, I bought all my books in the Little Professor book stores. Anyone else remember those? Their logo was a little owl wearing a mortar board and tassel. The stores were about the size of the Borders Express bookstores, and most of them were located in shopping malls. Their extensive magazine selection was a huge claim to fame. They also were able to order any book you wanted from anywhere in the country – and that was a big deal before the internet came into existence.
And if you want to go way, way back in my book buying history, most of my first books were purchased in local discount or department stores. In the 1960’s and 1970’s all those stores had pretty good sized book departments. I’m talking Sears and Montgomery Wards and Arlans (early version of K-Mart). Also the more “higher echelon” stores like J.L. Hudson (now Macy’s) whose downtown Detroit store had an entire floor dedicated to books.
But every other book buying experience paled in comparison when I first walked into Borders. My son was a toddler at the time, and he was almost as much of a bibliophile as I was. An outing to the Borders store was a huge treat for both of us…we could wander amidst their huge selection of children’s books, check out all the new bestsellers along with more paperbacks than I had ever seen in one place.
And, wonder of wonders, I could even get hot, fresh coffee to sip while I shopped.
Over the next 20 years, I spent a lot of money in Borders stores. In the last decade, my book buying habits – along with those of most of the rest of the world, apparently – have changed significantly. For one thing, I don’t have the disposable income I once did, nor do I have the storage to house all the books I’d really love to buy. I pick and choose my book purchases much more carefully. I utilize my library more often, and order from internet sites where the prices are cheaper. And yes, I read e-books on occasion, although I prefer “real” books fashioned from paper and ink.
So I suppose I’m partly to blame for the failure of Borders and the possibility of future bookstore failures.
I wish I could go back in time and buy more books, perhaps stave off the demise of the book store chain for a little while.
Because I really don’t want to think about a future world without books, or big bookstores to buy them in.