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The End of Borders, Bookstore That Is.

The Borders bookstore in Reno, NV on 7/19/2011, a day after the liquidation announcement.

Borders is finally liquidating and going out of business. It was already in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy since February, but now they’re clearing out their stock (probably starting Friday, July 22), laying off 10,700 of their employees, and closing all their stores across the US. This was announced on Monday at the end of the business day, at their headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Here’s the letter from Border’s CEO to his employees about the current situation.I’ve been waiting for this to happen for the last year and a half, and now it has. Another chain bookstore gone from the US and now fewer places for people to buy books new. So what?

Now that Borders is closing, there’s just going to be less opportunity to get to books for many people. Sure, you can get books in Wal-Mart or Target, but most of those are the “best sellers” with a few religious books, some current non-fiction, novels of various genres, and juvenile and children’s books. Bookstores have more than just the best-sellers and safe books- they even have books that could elicit thought and other dangerous activities. What activities? Like having a conversation with other people not on a computer; buying a calendar that’s not fuzzy kitties or of historic lighthouses; browsing through stacks of books to find something you didn’t know that you really needed; being able to buy foreign magazines and newspapers, and just newspapers and magazines in general (in Reno, Borders had the best newsstand in town); and being able to go somewhere and have coffee and read and spend an afternoon in a relaxing, quiet place.

There is a solution to this dilemma. The thing to do is to support local bookstores more now and buy book from them. Reno has a great independent new bookstore, Sundance Books, and several good used bookstores, Zephyr Books and even Grassroots Books. Sure- there’s the Internet and buying books online, which I do. But, if you can find a book locally, why not buy it and keep your money where it can circulate in your own community and do more. Keep buying books locally and keep reading, and thinking.

The strangest thing for me is this: I went over to Borders to take some pictures of the outside for this piece and it looked like it’s always been since it opened: with people sitting in the café drinking coffee, meeting and reading, media bought and sold, and people milling around and going here and there. There are no notes, banners, signs, or anything to tell customers that Borders will soon be out of business.

Borders Is Bust

Borders has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Not really surprising, since if you follow these kinds of trends, Borders has been in trouble for years. If you just walk into a Borders, there’s fewer books now, barely any CDs, a few DVDs and a lot of “lifestyle” objects. Borders going bankrupt is just a sign of the problems with traditional book selling. It’s something that’s been happening since the mid 1990s when the first big book chains started to open up across the country. Before that, every town had at least one independent new bookstore. Reno had several: Sundance Books, The Little Professor, and a couple I can’t remember, even Carson had one. Of course you had Waldenbooks in the malls (I remember fondly the one in Park Lane Mall where I spent many happy hours,  it is now an empty lot gathering snow), and they had things you couldn’t get other places.  It all seemed to work.   In 1996, Barnes and Noble opened up in Reno, followed by Borders, and finally the “old” new bookstores started to close. Then, the used bookstores closed- and then we find ourselves where we are. For places without a real college, where books are everywhere, the only places to get books are the national chain stores and the internet. Soon, there’s going to be one less place to get books.