Border Closing

Borders closing in my town, to be exact. When I first lived in this suburban mini-city, Borders Bookstore was the only game in town. The selection was decent enough. I wrote my first ever journal entry in the Borders' cafe. The music department was eclectic, I discover many new artist there that I now treasure.

Then I moved to Boston - Cambridge, to be exact - where independent bookstores still thrived. Yes, there was both a Borders and a Barnes and Noble within walking distance of my home. Harvard Bookstore, Wordsworth and The Coop (also a B&N) were a mere one T stop away too. It was bookstore heaven. But I never lost my fondness for Borders, my first real book superstore, and when I had the chance to go to Ann Arbor for business, I made sure to work in a side trip to the original Borders.

Borders doesn't have the determined funkiness of Powell's or the defiant intellectual snobbery of Harvard Bookstore or the sheer "we sell what we like" of the late, lamented WordsWorth. It doesn't even have the books-as-items-of-decadence feel that Waterstone's manages. Borders just offers shelves and shelves of books.

It's fashionable to complain about the mega-bookstore chains and claim they are strangling the publishing industry. I don't know if that's true. I could make a case that stores like Borders and B&N encourage book buying by making bookstores mainstream, a place to hang out, a place to meet. The offer a larger selection than the local bookstores of a mere 20 years ago. I value those local bookstores but if you didn't share their taste, you were out of luck. In an ideal world, both the megastores and the small stores would survive because both have their benefits.

In the real world, my local Borders is closing and it feels like the end of an era.

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