I received some sad news yesterday. I was in a Barnes and Noble exchanging an audio book for the paper version and while I was talking with the woman at the counter she mentioned that Borders was nearing bankruptcy. I was not entirely convinced, I mean she was working for the competition. So when I got home I checked on-line and sure enough there are lots of articles about it. They may file as early as Monday (2/14/2011).
I have many happy memories of the days when I lived in Elk Grove, CA. Among those are the times I would walk with my sons to the local Borders store (it was within a 5 minute walk of our home). We’d meander through the clearance books, the kids books, the music occasionally and on to the books that were more an interest to me. Often we would just sit on the floor and flip through our respective books until we made our final selections. There was always something to find, something to discover that we would never have found if we bought all our books at an online venue like Amazon. Don’t get me wrong, I love Amazon. If there is a specific book I want, chances are I’m buying it at Amazon. I can find it quick, they ship it quick and many times the shipping is free. But, even with their recommendations they can’t compete, for me, with just being in a bookstore and finding something.
I have the same issues for e-readers. I had been considering buying one recently (a friend lent me his). And I will say the Kindle is an amazing device. I knew that they were supposed to look like actual print but I had no idea how true that is. But they just aren’t the same as the real book. Maybe if I traveled more it’s be more useful. However, even in the best situations you at least lose the presentation of the book. They don’t mimic the layout of an actual book because e-books are designed to only display text, not format (otherwise you couldn’t change font size). Not to mention you can’t lay out a half a dozen books on your table while doing a bit of research to get bits of information quickly from multiple sources like you can with real books. Of course this is sort of a tangential issue to Borders going into bankruptcy.
Of course in recent years I haven’t been able to find things as easily at Borders lately. I can’t quantify this, but it seems like their inventory selection is waning. Or perhaps my tastes have changed. I was also in a Borders yesterday and look as I might I could not find anything I wanted to use my 40% off coupon on. How depressing is that. I did buy a couple daily calendars by moleskin because they were $1 each but a new bit of reading, not a thing.
That makes me think that perhaps what I would miss about Borders if they went away might be gone for the most part already. I hope that isn’t true. I hope it will be around for years to come and it will become a place to continue for many years to come. Maybe this will make them what I used to love about them.