Requiem for Borders Books

 An old family friend is on its last legs.  A few years ago, the Barnes and Noble at Maple and Telegraph closed.  That's ok, I thought.  We still have Borders.  We have been going to Borders since before our kids were born.  We bought almost all their early reading books there.  Sometimes we would go there "just because."  

 

Yesterday I went in Borders and looked around.  Gone were all the self help computer kiosks.  The liquidators shut those off on the first day.  The store was still pretty well stocked.  The discounts were running 25 to 50% off and the place was packed but there was still a lot left.  I picked up a paperbook about allergies.  Then I saw Bob Lutz's new book.  I had paid full price for an autographed copy over at Book Beat but if I'd waited, I could have gotten 25% off at Borders.  That's ok, I'll keep my signed copy.

 

I've read analysis from authors, other retailers, current and former employees and they are just about unanimous.  Borders did themselves in.  From hiring Amazon to run their web site, "Here mouse, would you guard my cheese?" To mistreating authors so they were reluctant to come to Borders for book signings. To failure to pay publishers. To "branching out" to sell DVD's and CD's just as Barnes and Noble was figuring out this was a bad idea.  Borders did themselves in.  Even now, as I wander through the emptying shelves I see cd's and DVD's.  Even at 25% off, I don't see any CD's that I want.  Not even that John Lennon boxed set that retails for $100 and is now marked down to $75 but could probably be had for $50 in digital format.  A box set of CD's means I have to spend more time ripping before I get to listen to my music so it's actually worth less than buying the same thing at Amazon (and getting free online storage until I can get around to downloading it all).  

 

So now what do we do for a neighborhood book store?  Wait for B&N to reopen some of our closed Borders so we don't have to drive all the way to Royal Oak?  I don't think so.  I think I'm going to find the time to visit Book Beat and John King Books more than once a decade.  I'm going to support the bookstores we had before we got Borders and B&N because those are the ones that will last.  Sure I use Kindle to read.  If I hear about a book, I'll go to Amazon to find out the price and if it's available on Kindle, I buy it on the spot.  30 seconds with no gas wasted beats driving to the book store the same way getting music on iTunes or Amazon beats driving to the record store.  But I'll try to remember to take the time to support our neighborhood book stores for titles when I'm not in a hurry.  Sure I "overpaid" for my copy of Car Guys Vs Bean Counters but you can't get an author's signature on your Kindle.

 

I've come across numerous articles and blogs about the demise of borders. Here are a few I found most enlightening...

Books Without Borders (The Stranger)

On Borders Closing (Monster Hunter Nation)

 List of Independent Alternative Bookstores (Published after the first round of Borders' closings in February, even more needed now)

 Liquidation Diary (The Book Frog)

 Borders on Depression 

 What to do now that Borders went Bankrupt