Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Borders Bookstores - A eulogy by Robert Steven Mack
For the last five minutes I have been pacing up and down to find a suitable way to begin this article. Just a few moments ago, it was then, I realized that it would be best to be as basic and frank as I can possibly be. So I'll try: Borders after a long period of suffering is closing. Did that get the message across? I suppose it’s been coming for a long time; the recession this country is still suffering has hit a number of companies bad. Still, the fact that a major chain of bookstores is liquidating can still be a shock. What is the underlying cause. Is it a sign of a growing illiteracy rate in this country and indifference towards books? No doubt, and it’s just gotten worse. Still it is my belief - and perhaps yours too - that this reason is not the only factor that caused the downfall of Borders.
I can remember the golden Borders when I go many years back: I recall the stage in the children’s section that so comfortably resided and reigned so majestically. It was removed and replaced by desolate and unwelcoming walls in the company store. I now refer to my favorite local Borders that resides in a mall reasonably close to where I live now as an example to further my point. I recall the magical feeling when coming up those stairs to the children's section on the second floor of that Borders which beauty can now only live on in the memories of those such as myself who loved the store a great deal. In the olden days, the staircase walls were blue with a picture of a sailing ship comfortably swinging from the wall. I also remember when Borders had a better selection in both movies and books in a nice comfortable area. Oh, the hours spent admiring its many great titles and collections! Now the stage is gone, the picture of the sailing ship vanished, and frankly I have seen better selections at Ralphs! The walls are re-painted a cold unwelcoming orange and white reminding the customer of a Subway station. In truth, some of the booksellers themselves have sadly lost their touch.
Another thing Borders neglected is keeping up with technology and their failed attempt to compete with sites like Amazon and EBay. Now we take a look at its biggest competitor Barnes and Noble: good service, the Nook is well established, a children’s stage so tempting to the eye of even a grown-up… Plus, a film selection full and gratifying just to look at. But I think the topper for the recent failure of Borders owes itself to the fact that so few people these days are reading. If kids everywhere would some day give up TV and video games just for an hour and curl up with a book without experiencing the overbearing pressure from mentors and teachers, and comprehension questions they might just find it’s the best thing they ever did!
Borders founded by Tom and Luise Borders in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1971enjoyed forty years of the selling of books until the management went stale, the stores became unfriendly and unwelcoming, and are forced to close.
A silverlining? Interestingly, a few days ago before I knew of Borders was closing, my mother and I went there and acquired surprisingly "rare" books we had not been able to spot elsewhere. If only the economy had given it a little more time! I have read, however, that Books-a-Million is seeking to save thirty-five Borders stores. With proper management and the restoration of the stage, good selections, sailing ships, etc. perhaps these stores will be able to look forward to a promising future. And if this fails, I hope they will at least keep the original store in Ann Arbor where I once lived and went and rebuild from there.
During the next few days, I will be mournfully attending Border's funeral, buying my last Borders’ products, and giving my respects to a once great store.
Copyright 2011 by Robert Steven Mack (all rights reserved!)