Growing up, the only bookstore I knew, aside from Half Price Books, was Barnes and Noble. Having an addiction to the scent of books, it was one of my favorite places. But in 2007, a new shopping center was built in my area, and with it, a new bookstore.
At first, I reacted to Borders with distaste and reluctance to enter its doors. After all, Barnes and Noble was a perfectly fine bookstore; why should I have to bother with this other? Yes, I admit, I can be pigheaded when it comes to trying new things. Just ask my mother and husband who complain about the fact to each other. But one day, my husband dragged me past my irrational prejudice and into Borders. I swiftly fell in love.
In many ways, Borders and Barnes and Noble were nearly identical. They sold many of the same books, arranged their shelves in precise parallel rows and at right angles. They both had cafés, 10% off cards, their cash registers in roughly the same place and with roughly the same arrangement. But there was just something about Borders that struck home for me.
Thinking back on it, part of that first appeal was the fact that Borders, unlike Barnes and Noble, had computers that customers could easily access to search their inventory. Initially, this was as exciting as two birthdays in one year. But not long after, Barnes and Noble, who must have realized that Borders was drawing customers away from them with such wonderful computer accessibility, installed their own computers. Still, Borders remained my favorite.
When I went into Borders this week, praying and hoping it wouldn’t truly be closed, I took a look around and tried to identify what about the store sat so well with me.
Borders had a softer feel, the sort of soft like a comfy chair you curl up in to read a good book on a rainy day and sip hot chocolate. The lighting was more muted. I don’t know if this was the lights themselves or simply the effect of different hues throughout the store. The shelves were a medium brown rather than the harder, darker shade of Barnes and Noble’s shelves. Borders also had a lot more chairs and benches that were always in use when I was there. And one of my favorite touches, though I never actually used one, was the ladders for reaching the highest shelves. It lent a feel of being in a place in touch with the olden days. The combination sat perfectly with me.
Sadly, Borders has now breathed its last and is in the process of fading from this world. Whatever the reason for its departure, whether a failure to embrace ebooks as many claim or simply the result of a terrible economy, I will miss it terribly.
Gone are the days of wandering through it gently hued shelves in search of something interesting. I will never again sit in its café with my writing friends or my husband discussing books and plots and the random topics of a reader’s mind. I will never again feel that warm rush of gratitude and pleasure as one of Borders’ employees, some of the best I ever encountered, recommended authors who became some of my favorites.
Now, I have little reason to return to this shopping center, and when I do and pass by the great building that once was my favorite bookstore, I know I’ll feel a twinge and emptiness, a sadness for the bookstore I once so adored.
To all those losing their job because of Borders’ sad end, I send my condolences and hope that you will swiftly find employment elsewhere.
How do you feel about Borders closing its doors forever? What do you think it will mean for the publishing industry? What will it mean for you as a consumer?