Friday, February 18, 2011

Who Mourns for Borders?

I am not a happy camper today. In the big picture,
it's not a big deal. However, in the land of Tom's
hangout time, it's a tragic day. Borders Bookstores
announced that it's closing 200 of it stores across
the country. Included in this list of closures is
our location in Grand Junction, Colorado. As a kind
of tradition, Lynn and I would go there on Thursday
afternoon, buy a coffee or a pot of tea and spend the
time reading books and magazines. Now we will have to
go to the other big box bookstore in town to do the
same. I hardly think that if we would have bought more
books or magazines at Borders they would be more
financially secure. At least we bought something!
I have been a fan of Borders since I first visited
their original location in Ann Arbor, Michigan back
in the late 1980's. I followed them wherever I lived
since then and was thrilled when I found there was a
location in Grand Junction when we moved there in 2006.

I read an article trumpeting the decline of this big
box book chain as a "victory" for the Independent
bookstore. I say, hardly is this the truth. I feel
that small, independent booksellers are in bigger
trouble now than ever. What drove Borders near non-
existence was the fact that and e-books
are driving store-front book retailers out of business
in general. If a company that has capital assets of
1.2 Billion (yes, with a "B") and very large inventories
cannot make it, how will the little guys survive. I
believe in small business, but let's be real. Most of
the time, the small bookseller doesn't have the inventory,
prices or amenities that an online retailer like Amazon

So, who will be the real winners when the battle for
books settles, and who will remain?

1) - They do it better (and cheaper than anyone)
Plus, you can shop in your pajamas at all hours of the day.

2) Used Book Stores - If they smarten up, used book stores
will begin lowering their prices to move inventory. I've
been to too many used bookstores where prices are way too
high and I ended up not buying anything and walking out the

3) Local Libraries - If patrons are smart, they will continue
to vote for bond/tax issues that will support/build really
good community libraries. Public Libraries are still one of
the best ideas and best values around.

So there you go. Borders in Grand Junction will be an empty
building by the end of April. And I'll miss it. I will move
on...I just hope that the retail book world will move on as well.

1 comment:

Benjamin said...

I mourn for Borders. However, if Borders was a person, it would be that family friend that never got married, ate, drank and smoked too much, took a lot of chances and ended up dying young (and not in a cool rockstar sort of way), probably from a drug overdose. Borders was always slow to adjust to a changing cultural dynamic, slow to go digital and lacked proper fiscal responsibilty that is required of being a big box store. I am not shocked that it is going under. I am sad, but un-surprised.