19 July 2011

Borders Group in liquidation

I just read that Borders Group has filed for liquidation in US Bankruptcy Court yesterday (via the Detroit Free Press). Which i find sad. I remember i loved going to Borders bookstore. I mean it was always a near-religious experience for me. Seriously. I can't explain why. It's not as if it was the first bookstore i'd ever encountered (that would probably be recently-defunct mall staple B. Dalton). Maybe because of its size: from my first visit to the Ann Arbor location in the early eighties to my semi-regular visits to the Southfield bookstore, it just seemed like acres of books! And it seemed as if they covered the gamut of the printed word (which they probably did for the most part). Like some kids going to the ice cream shop, that was me going to Borders. Barnes & Noble?! Why, they're just an imitation of the Borders look and feel!*

The last books i'd bought from a physical bookstore were from a Borders franchise in the Atlanta (i'm pretty sure) airport. At the urging of the cashier i'd even signed up for their emailings. But that was in 2006 and a pretty generic experience, not the Borders experience i'd remembered. Obviously, being on the other side of the world for the last 15-ish years made it difficult to visit them. I eventually found their mailings with their exclusive offers and e-coupons pointless and i eventually unsubscribed. These last few years of books came from an online presence...another online presence...not Borders. Borders without walls, without a physical presence, made no sense to me. It was to be experienced, not just ordered from like a pizza joint. And maybe that was part of the problem.

The article also mentions how changing reading habits (i.e., eBooks) played a part in Borders' closing. Whereas i think this is just management not moving in step with the times, for many years now i've had this...fear...for the future of the printed book. While i can appreciate all the advantages of delivering media in electronic form, it also raises the bar of entry, especially in the matter of books...and reading...and literacy. Not that the closing of the Borders chain has anything to do with that. But i can't help feeling how one is just a signpost for the other.

* I honestly don't know in this case who copied whose style. I was first introduced to Borders before Barnes & Noble had a presence in the Detroit area...and i'm stickin' to that! :P

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