As many devoted readers of actual paper books are probably aware, Borders announced earlier today that they are closing their remaining stores and going out of business for good. Store liquidation could start as early as Friday, and all Borders stores will be gone by the end of September. Given the amount of money I spend at Borders, I sort of feel like my purchases alone should be enough to keep the company afloat... but alas, no.
This is, of course, hugely sad for Borders' 10,700 employees, but it's also sad for those of us who are still stalwart devotees to ink-and-paper reading devices. Borders has always been my favorite place to buy books... partially because it usually tended to be the more convenient option, and also because I strongly preferred the book shopping experience at Borders to the experience at B&N. Borders stores always felt more welcoming, and their rewards program was far superior to the one offered at B&N. With Borders on its way out, my options are either a tiny local bookstore nearby with a really miniscule selection, or a B&N over 20 minutes away (or, of course, ordering books online). I don't mean to disparage local businesses, but for me a great deal of the fun of being a book lover comes from the book shopping experience... by which I mean browsing. When it comes to browsing, I love just looking over what's featured on the display tables, or picking a genre and just seeing what I can find. Probably about 60-70% of my book purchases are unplanned... purchased when I just went into the store to see what was new. Browsing is more difficult in smaller bookstores, and it's nowhere near as satisfying when it's done online. Time to get a library card, I guess! I'm told the libraries here aren't bad, but I haven't gone into any of them in the half year that I've lived here.
More pragmatic people will probably point out that this is the way of things, in business. In an adapt-or-die kind of world, it's natural for the businesses who don't keep up with changing technology to be the ones who fail. I'm still sad, especially since I'm still clinging to the old-fashioned technology invented by Gutenberg. I guess this is the way that I'll be dragged kicking and screaming into the e-book market... which makes me a little resentful, as it's sort of the e-book revolution that caused the downfall of Borders.
So I bid a fond farewell to Borders, and a fond farewell to my days of spontaneous bookstore browsing. And to online shoppers and e-book readers, I say "curse you, now I won't get my full year out of my Borders Plus membership that I paid $20 for."