Closing the Book on Borders

Hi gang. If you’ve been sleepin’ in your hammock for that past few days, then this is news for you. Otherwise, y’all are aware of the liquidation sale goin’ on at all the Borders book stores around town.

The day the fire sale started I was somewhat surprised to see so many folks fill the stores in earnest lookin’ for a good deal. At that moment I thoughts to myself, where were all these good folks when the store was open for regular business? Then I was intrigued ’cause the liquidators had slashed prices by only 10%. Sos I thoughts again to myself, why didn’t Borders simply reduce its prices in order to stay in business?

I know Borders did what it could to survive in this economic mess. One reporter argues management did the wrong thing at the wrong time and the company only has itself to blame. But that ain’t the focus of this post.

Curiosity gots me thinkin’. Are we buyin’ these books ’cause we see the words LIQUIDATION in the windows and impulsively head inside? If so, will we get around to readin’ these books? Are we really a nation that reads? If so, then why is it that I am always challenged to get my students to open their textbooks? Every semester.

What’s goin’ on? Do we really care about books or do we just care about sales?

How do you feel about these store closings? Will you miss your local Borders bookstore? What effect will this have on our students? Will they still have easy access to books?

3 thoughts on “Closing the Book on Borders

  1. I, for one, am fairly pleased by the closing of Borders. Independent bookstores took a big hit with the rise of Barnes & Noble and Borders, which was quite sad. The owners and employees of these small bookstores generally love and know their product, have admiration for their creators, and reverence for reading. How often do you get that feeling in Borders? Their novelty book and gift section was as large as their history section, and as large as the philosophy, psychology, cultural studies, sociology and language studies combined. My philosophy books were always poorly organized, poorly stocked, and emphasized books that weren’t really philosophy. Sure, this is a business in a capitalist society, and I’m not arguing that it has the right and duty to market what it needs to in order to make a profit. But this is not an additional threat to the crippled reading culture of the United States and the modern world.

    I don’t know for sure, but it’s a decent guess to think that Borders made its profits from DVDs, CDs, and novelty items.

    Perhaps people will be encouraged to return to the struggling neighborhood independent bookstores. “Unabridged Books” in Lakeview, or the used bookstores along 57th street in Hyde Park, are a part of their communities. Their employees stick around for years and years, and a culture springs up around them. Their stock, clientele, and and atmosphere reflect their communities, and that is good.

    Not to sound too Marxist, but Borders is quite the alienating experience. You are in a place designed in another city, for the purpose of getting you in, drawing your eye to profitable books, and getting you out. On the other hand, you see how the used bookstores in Hyde Park emphasize the scholarly books that reflect that community. Meanwhile, the Hyde Park Borders was exactly like any other Borders. In East Lakeview, Unabridged has a great selection of excellent books, but its hallmark is its immense GLBT section, reflective of its Boystown community. Meanwhile, neither the Lakeview (Diversey, Clark and Broadway) or Uptown Borders (Broadway and Lawrence), which rested on the south and north of Boystown, exhibited any sign that it was part of its neighborhood.

    The rise of e-books, Amazon, and the nature of modern culture certainly are threats for independent bookstores, but the closing of Borders is not bad for our reading culture.

    • As a side note, if you’re on Facebook, try searching for your neighborhood bookstore! I’ve been “friends” with Unabridged for a few months, and it keeps me updated on what my local bookstore does with the community. Writing this reminded me to look for the Seminary Co-Op Bookstore, which also has a healthy page.

  2. An anonymous librarian says “Hell yes we will miss Borders”. The book is not yet dead, even though everyone seems to love Kindles and e-books. There is nothing more fulfilling than holding a book in your hands and turning the pages and becoming excited about the contents. Of course, I am from the last millenium and perhaps my thoughts and insights no longer have any meaning. I sincerely hope not, but you know what, I am so glad I am from the last century. What a lot of stuff the new generation has not experienced. Yes, we will miss Borders. Not a library, but a damn good substitute.

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