Thursday, February 17, 2011

How Borders Closing Doesn't Really Affect Me...But It Still Does.

And I don't mean in the larger, overarching, Borders closing affects all of us that love books and write and want to see the industry thrive level. I mean personally.

The Borders in my town closed months ago. It's not on the list because the space is already empty, the tables and shelves already sold off, the books discounted until they sold, too. I admit--I got some good deals when the place went under, and never has that store been more packed than when all the vultures like me were buying the leftover merchandise at 50% off sticker price.

I was sad to see the store go, but I'm certainly not in the group that just lost its only bookstore for miles. There are three indie bookstores on our town square alone. I love visiting my favorite, Howard's, and browsing the small but always enticing selection, and petting the kitties who live there. There's a Barnes and Noble across the street from the vacant storefront that used to be Borders, and I confess that I preferred the B&N--more space to read and write, larger book selection, the ladies who work in the B&N cafe are incredibly nice. Even so--I still loved going to Borders. I thrive on changing scenery, and the cheerful reds and oranges in our Borders were a welcome change from the dour greens and burnished wood in our B&N. Beyond that--I think the more places for books to live and book people to congregate, the better.

Still, it was already gone, so I'm not quite sure why I even opened the list to read other stores closing. It doesn't affect me.

But it did.

The store I used to visit in Chicago, the one right downtown, with the windows overlooking Michigan Avenue, with the ever-changing rush of people flowing in and out and underneath, is closing. I used to go there with my uncle on trips to the city, and spent a couple air-conditioned hours there with my husband on our mini-vacation two summers ago.

The location in Indianapolis, where I would hide out while waiting for friends to come in on the bus, or take a break from Christmas shopping, is closing as well.

And finally, the Borders in my hometown, where, after closing the sandwich place I worked in high school on weekend evenings, I would go and read for an hour or so before their closing time, is shutting its doors, as well. I recalled immediately, when I saw the fuzzed, off-kilter print on that PDF list, memories of studying there, history book in one hand and a mocha latte frappe fluffy drink in the other. My dad and I would visit on weekend mornings, between errands, and he would browse the Sci-Fi section while I poked around the literature shelves.

In some ways, this nostalgia is very silly. These are not hometown bastions, small independent stores that carved out niches years ago and maintained their footholds, defying hardship time and again. They are not family-run enterprises that just bit the dust and took a few generations of hard work with them. They're consumer experiences replicated nation-wide, created by a corporation. Yet--they're still spaces where I and millions of others grew to love books a little more, and shared that affinity with one another, even if silently.

I'm going to miss that Borders in my hometown, even if all I really miss is the reminder of the times I spent there.


Savannah J. Foley said...

Aww, the one in Chicago is closing? When I lived in St. Charles I visited there once or twice. I bought some of my favorite books from that store :-(

Rowenna said...

Sav--I know, I was really sad to see that. A few Chicago area locations are closing :( I just recall that location on Clark Street as being a great place to take a break while in downtown Chicago for whatever reason--it was one of my fallbacks!

dolleygurl said...

I honestly have to say that after reading the email I got saying that many of the stores were closing I got a few tears. I have always loved Borders so much more than Barnes and Noble. I get better deals without having to pay for a membership - that was the biggest selling point for me. Beyond that the area I grew up in used to have a Waldenbooks (which became Borders) but we don't have a B&N. I scoured "the list" today and was happy to see my hometown Borders is staying open, but a few of my other favs were not. I don't have the opportunity to go to Borders much these days because I don't have one near by but I miss the experience. It's pretty sad when the #2 chain in the nation is having problems.

Demitria said...

I live in Chicago and even though I don't go to the loop store very often, I'm was still sad about it closing. I can't remember the last time I bought a book in a book store, I always go straight to Amazon now.

New follower...

Rowenna said...

Dolley--I'm glad you still have a local Borders to get lost in!

Demitria--thanks for following! I know, I don't even live in Chicago and I was sad about that. PS Checked out your blog and Last of the Mohicans is DEFINITELY the best movie ever :)

Hema P. said...

I'm more of a library person than a bookstore person, but I, too, go to the B & N close to my house when I need a change of scene. I know there's nothing personal about the closing of a bookstore, especially one of the big chains, but it's hard not to take it that way when you're a book lover, isn;t it?