Archive for September, 2011

Border Crossing

Posted in Autobiographical, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Starbucks on September 27, 2011 by smpiv

This shouldn’t take long.

Borders has gone out of business.  A sad reminder too many and a surprise to a very few.

Now, I did my best to support it and kill it all at the same
time.  I spent lots of time reading magazines I had no intention of buying; plotting for future purchases on Amazon; and drinking lots of their coffee.  I had a Borders Card and I did buy enough there to get my Borders Bucks, so I wasn’t a complete scoundrel, but….

Yes, but, I do have a Kindle.  If any of you truly think our houses will have shelves to keep our large collection of books in the near future, you are sadly mistaken.  Even Ikea has redesigned its Billy book case to be deeper and happier as a storage shelf and not a book shelf.

Is this a bad thing?

No, just a different thing.

Anyone of my age well remembers LPs and for me my father’s large jazz collection of 78s.  Where are they now?  Some land fill somewhere.

I think it’s harder with books because we grew up with the story of the Guttenberg Bible and the advent of the printing press.  The great democratizer of knowledge—the power of the printed word.  Books everywhere.  You needed to know something you found it in a book.

One of the first jobs I had fashioned for my future was the Information Librarian.  I thought that would be the coolest thing to look things up all day.  To track down minor details lost in abstracts, moldy magazines and even moldier ancient texts.  An archeologist of the mind–a keeper of facts.  Can’t tell you why I didn’t pursue it, but my mouth still waters at the thought of banks and banks of card catalogues and indexes.

So as I approached West Leb’s version of Borders, with its huge swayback sign that said, “Going Out of Business” for the last time it was with sadness.  I’m just not a Barnes and Noble guy, although they do have Starbucks, which is a plus.  The yellow caution tape had now girdled the remaining stock towards the front desk, so there was more empty space than not.

Children’s section, gone. Music—long gone.  DVDs—not many.  Even Sting’s latest CD was being shilled at a
great markdown—I bit.

Amongst this shriveled bit of bookery was an elderly lady who wandered the aisles as if she had all the time in the world.  Stopping every few feet to run her fingers over the spine of a book, flip through a few pages and just being blithely in the way.  I passed her several times as I took advantage of the markdowns and finally made my way to the cashier.

The little old lady stood in front of me in line.  Just before her turn a woman was making her purchase,

“I am so sorry to see Borders go out of business.  It’s so unfortunate.”

“We are as well.  But the lease has been purchased by Books-a-Million,” he offered up as a salve.  More like Bactine, it helps but it still hurts.

Amidst the deluge that is an Irene-like closing, with yellow markdown signs everywhere, empty bookshelves shoved around in total disarray, bits and pieces that have no obvious use, but for sale anyway, and yellow
caution tape delineating the dangers of the closed areas, our wizened little lady looked around wide-eyed, suddenly conscious, blurted out, “Borders is closing?!”

Yes my dear it has.  Is it a monument to bad management and bad business planning or a sign
of the demise of the printed word?  Just so I can be right—it’s both.  Barring an upper atmosphere electromagnetic pulse that fries all our electronics, books are going the way of the dinosaur.

I will miss Borders because it always felt like a really nice library where I could drink coffee in the stacks and peruse an amazing collection of magazines.  Things were categorized by type—fiction, literature, science fiction and on, and not by the dismal Dewey decimal system.

I have been totally subverted by Amazon but, I wonder, when they go out of business, where will they hang the banner?  And who will blurt out, “Amazon is closing?!”

Just asking.