Borders may be closing; do we care?

This morning I was going to write a piece about time, or lack of time I have had this week. Instead I am turning my attention to Borders books. I found this article in the Huffington Post  It is a short article titles If Borders folds, should we mourn? Long time readers know I have been watching this chain for several years as the changes I have seen have not been good.
Once upon a time Borders was the place to buy books. The chain was known to be staffed by book lovers and retired teachers.  Unlike its rival, Barns & Noble, Borders had a cozy, small store feel to it, even though each store was large and housed a vast array of book titles. Over the last several years I have watched my local Borders go from having books of all types to specializing in teenage paranormal titles. The staff too has changed from knowledgeable bookies to under paid retail clerks. Long time readers of mine may remember my run in with a clerk who had no idea who Sherlock Holmes was. Gone are the days when I could go in and get recommendations from their science expert; now I am lucky if I can get someone to look a book title up for me.  
The article states that the reason Borders is failing is due to its connection to Amazon’s e-books. Unlike Barns & Noble which has its own e-reader, Borders teamed with Amazon and its popular Kindle. I do not buy this argument. For one, the Kindle out sells the Nook, so it should follow that Borders e- books sales should be larger than its rival., and two print books still out sell on average , e-books. No, I think the author puts too much emphasis on this point and not enough on her other argument; Borders no longer feels like a book store, at least my local Borders matches what the author notes. Let me compare my last visit to Borders to my visit to Barns & Noble.
The Royal Academy of Science listed is prize winning books just a few short months ago. Most of these books are now available in tradeback.  I printed the list out and headed to Borders. Now I did not expect Borders to have them all, but I did expect the chain to carry the top award winner, after all this title is to science what Pulitzers are to the literary crowd. To make a long story short, not one book on the list could be found, nor could I get the two clerks standing right next to me to help me. They were too busy complaining about another employee to pay attention to me, even when I loudly exclaimed I would have to get my titles from Amazon.  Compare this to a week later when I visited Barns & Noble. A clerk saw that I had a two page list in my hand and offered to help me locate the books I wanted. I did not want all of the books on the list, but did ask if 5 were in stock. The books were mostly science but included two history titles. All of the books I wanted were in stock and the clerk was kind enough to help me locate them, even though the store was packed.
Should we mourn the loss of Borders? I feel bad for the employees who will be out of work, and will not like the idea of having yet another big empty building in my town, yet I cannot think of a good reason why Borders should not fail. My local Borders carries stacks and stacks of teen books, almost a quarter of the store is devoted to young adults, yet I cannot say I see very many teens buying books.  The paperback books Borders pushes can be found in any grocery chain and the “discount” card program is a joke. I will mourn what Borders used to be, but will not mourn the loss of what it has become.

Author: sarij

I'm a writer, lifelong bibliophile ,and researcher. I hold a Bachelors in Humanities & History and a Master's in Humanities. When I'm not reading or talking about Shakespeare or history, you can usually find me in the garden discussing science or politics with my cat.

7 thoughts on “Borders may be closing; do we care?”

  1. I rarely get to go to any of those big bookstores since I live in the woods so it is a rare treat to get lost in one. I didn't know Borders had changed for the worse– but I'm with you and will not care if it closes. This reminds me that I have photos I meant to post of empty spaces at the mall where bookstores used to be– I will do it soon and link to your post.


  2. All the UK branches closed last year, it was sad to see them go because the offered a good alternative to our usual chain (Borders tended to have a coffee shop, seats, lots more books). But I can sympathise with the workings. Although the staff were great and very helpful it did sometimes feel more like a supermarket.


  3. Lesa, it is sad to see bookstores close, big and small. It hurts to think young children will not get to do what we did; pick out books based on their cover and wonderful art work. It is hard to do this online.Charlie, I am sorry to hear this. I hate to see good people lose jobs.


  4. If Border's may go under, why would they buy Walden's and close them? Seems a shame. I wondered why all the Walden's were closing– my photos are of missing Walden stores.


  5. I haven't posted it yet– my backlog of To Be Blogged is about as large as my To Be Read. I just lost all my photos in a virus so now have to find the photos on a disc.


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