Log in

No account? Create an account

The End of Borders

Last week, I took some time on Friday afternoon to check out the Borders book store in Downtown Crossing. As I presume most of you know by now, Borders, which has been an active business since 1971, has declared bankruptcy and is going out of business.

Borders Going Out of Business Borders Going Out of Business Photo copyright ©2011 M. A. Burstein.

A few years ago, Downtown Crossing boasted two chain bookstores, a Barnes & Noble and this Borders. My understanding is that the Barnes & Noble closed when the property owner raised the rent, confident that they could get a retailer willing to pay if B&N wasn't. B&N wasn't, and years later, the site is still vacant.

I have to admit that the loss of that B&N hit me more than the loss of Borders does now. I grew up loving many different bookstores, including Coliseum Books, The Strand, and Shakespeare & Co., but all of those were in Manhattan. A short walk from where I lived in Forest Hills, however, were a Waldenbooks and a Barnes & Noble. So I have a more atavistic attachment to those store names than to Borders, even though Waldenbooks was eventually bought by Borders.

Borders Going Out of Business Sale Borders Going Out of Business Sale Photo copyright ©2011 M. A. Burstein.

Although the downtown Borders had laid off a friend of mine a while back, making me stay away from it, I decided to go inside to check out the sale. I was curious to see what items were left, and what the atmosphere was like. The store was hopping, but I suspect that the staffers who are about to lose their jobs didn't exactly feel excited about it.

Oddly enough, I found myself uninterested in taking advantage of the sale. I did find a few books that would have once interested me if I had the chance to buy them at deep discounts, such as the fortieth anniversary Doonesbury collection and a reprint of the large hardcover companion to the Carl Sagan Cosmos series. But whether it's because our own finances are tight or being in a closing bookstore depressed me, I just couldn't bring myself to buy anything.

There was also this, which I noticed in the science fiction section.

Borders Science Fiction Section at 60% Off Borders Science Fiction Section at 60% Off Photo copyright ©2011 M. A. Burstein.

The Downtown Crossing Borders was one of many stories that was very supportive of me when I Remember the Future came out in 2008, and they stocked many copies, all of which I cheerfully signed. Seeing my own book as part of the going out of business sale is like the final nail in the coffin, to overuse a cliché.

We Can Remember It For You On Sale We Can Remember It For You On Sale Photo copyright ©2011 M. A. Burstein.

At this point, I believe downtown Boston has only two major large bookstores left, a Barnes & Noble in the Prudential Center and the one in Kenmore Square that serves as the Boston University Bookstore. All I can say is, I'm still glad we have Pandemonium, the New England Mobile Book Fair, the Harvard Bookstore, Newtonville Books, and Brookline Booksmith around.


Not too long ago, I read something in passing that suggested this is actually A Good Thing.
The article in question was aiming at the more "traditional" big boxen, and IIRC, supermarkets, but the thrust of the story was that you have a gigantic Mega Mart that drives out all the mom and pops, but in trying to be all things to all people, becomes too big to remain agile enough to respond to the fickle changes in consumer behaviour.
I'm not sure where Borders's closing leaves the indie books stores, though, because the elephant in the room remains the e-reader: an elephant that's inconsequential to those not in the book trade.
This past weekend, we were in Ann Arbor so R. could attend a friend's bat mitzvah. While she was there, Elaine, M., and I hit some used bookstores and also stopped in at Borders Store #1 (although it is not at its original location, which I made sure to walk by as well). We made our final purchase from a Borders when M. found something she wanted.

With less than a week to go, Borders #1 had a much larger selection than my local Borders did a week before its closing several months ago.
Let's not forget Trident Booksellers & Cafe on Newbury Street.

And also Porter Square Books for folks on my side of the river.

Do you get any royalties for books that are sold at a liquidation?

Edited at 2011-09-06 07:24 pm (UTC)
I believe that the books had already been paid for by Borders to the publisher, so I've already been paid my royalties on them. But at 60% off, the bookstore is definitely losing money on the books.
Did you notice whether these were your signed copies?
I signed every copy of the book that the downtown Borders had for sale. So yes, these are signed copies. And if you look at them in the photo, you'll see a signed sticker on them.
It saddens me that Borders is no more. I had stopped going a couple of years ago because the parking at their new location was problematic, the effort of which was made even more aggravating by my then not finding the book I was looking for. After too many such incidents, I switched to Barnes & Noble.

I was hit far more by the closure of Stacey's Bookstore on San Francisco's Market Street. Whenever I'd be having a bad day at the office, I'd walk over to Stacey's and enjoy the sight of all those books.
Hopefully you'll gain a couple of new fans who couldn't have otherwise afforded a hardcover.
Just FYI, all of the copies Borders stocked were softcover, not hardcover.

December 2016

Powered by LiveJournal.com