If you find Borders closing to be sad, support your local bookstores
As Borders announces that the rest of its locations will close soon, the sense of loss hangs in the air. But what exactly is connected to that sense of loss?
Sure Borders closed most of its locations, so the outcry has been in stages. But as someone who walked through the stores at 30%, 40%, 50%, and even 70% off, you had to wonder, “what are we mourning?”
Some of the mourning is all about the bookstore, how it’s dying or being turned into cafes that have books alongside overpriced coffees and wi-fi. Barnes & Noble is stil alive, and we do have local bookstores with selections you won’t find at the major chain bookstores.
Some of the mourning is all about what is happening to books, that books are disappearing. The marketplace is shifting both in how to buy and what you get, but people are still reading. Sure some people ranted when movies and television came along that books would disappear, and books survived both of these trends.
Some of the mourning is all about seeing what is out there in the book buying process in air conditioned comfort surrounded by like-minded people. Amazon can help you if you know what you want. Local bookstores may have what you want, but you might have trouble finding it.
And some of the mourning is all about the loss of Borders, current and past.
Those who remember Borders in Ann Arbor, MI — before it became the Borders that people know — their mourning is for a time when going to Borders was cool. When seeing so many books in one setting was incredible. And no one came along to hassle you, yet they were there to help you find what you wanted; truly a book consumer’s dream. I was lucky to be one of those who knew about Borders before it became big.
Borders sold more than just books; they had CDs, DVDs, and other related media. Buying a CD at Borders would become laughable after awhile. You might not have found the book down the block, but you could find the CD for a lot cheaper than Borders. When the going out of business sale hit 50%, some of those CDs were still too expensive.
Being too big had drawbacks. Those also mourn the loss of Blockbuster for videos, the huge colossal corporate home for renting movies, though its corporate high-and-mighty, violence-over-nudity, anti-NC-17 practices weren’t consumer-friendly.
If you liked having the top of the top, giant outlets for books, video, and other media were the place to be. Those who liked more obscure titles often felt shut out by the big behemoths.
Thousands of bookstores and video stores and similar media outlets have closed in the last few years. Tears are shed in their own individual neighborhoods or cities. Collectively, we cry over Borders and Blockbuster because of what they represent, even if it didn’t always fit our needs.
Those who live in large cities that have a few good CD stores, book stores, and video stores should feel bad for those in smaller towns who are losing their main sources of media outlets. And everyone should feel bad for those who are stuck buying their media from Wal-Mart.
The way to keep the media alive is to buy, buy, and buy. What and how we buy has changed over the years and will change again. We will mourn the loss of how we buy those media; let’s hope we aren’t someday mourning the loss of the media itself.