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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Borders - The End of an Era

There is an old saying, "You can't go home again."

Nonsense. Of course you can go home again. But it won't be the same home as last year, or five years ago, or twenty years ago. Home is home, but time moves on.

I opened the newspaper today and saw that, indeed, a mainstay of my life is going the way of the buggy-whip-factory.

Borders Books & Music is closing.

I remember when Borders opened. It was reviled and condemned by some for putting small book-sellers and stores out of business; castigated as a monolithic corporate entity designed to drive the small sellers out of the competition. Others, like me, enjoyed the broad, well-stocked aisles, the vast selections of every subject imaginable, the well-chosen children's books, the great sales and the fact that the next wing also carried music. It was one of the first stores where I could go and actually listen to selections from a CD before deciding whether or not to buy it.

I like strolling through a book-store. I like to hold the book in my hand and riffle through the pages before deciding to buy or not. Most of my purchase decisions have been made by skipping through the actual book and getting a feel for the writing style, the voice, the intricacy of the text.

I also liked the easy access and good parking. Where others would spend an hour in Nordstrom's, I'd rather spend an hour browsing in Borders.

Now Borders is the victim of progress. Walking into a bookstore is being replaced by ordering on-line.

I'm heart-broken. It's not the same. Going to Borders was a treat, an hour away from the hurley-burley demands of everyday life. It was a place to consider the future (science fiction) or the past (history) or current events (politics) or beauty (art and architecture) or a myriad of other interests. It was a place where I could easily pick up foreign language tapes while also picking up travel books. It was a place to step out of time and consider something other than the immediate mundane demands of work, children, grocery shopping, bill paying and getting the car serviced.

Sorry, ordering on-line from Amazon or Barnes & Noble just doesn't do it for me. An e-book is not a book any more than a Facebook friend is a friend. Amazon is not a bookstore, it is a web portal.

I work all day on a computer. There is nothing fun, restful or relaxing about "browsing" on-line through pages of internet offerings. Nor do I want to wait 2 days to hold my book in my hand. Book, you will notice--not digital download. When I find something (more often, a half-dozen somethings) I want to take it to the check-out stand, pay for it, and be holding it in my hand, reading it that night after work.

Ah, the pity of it all. I will miss Borders, and I am sorry to see my favorite bookstore bite the dust.

I can take some comfort in Tzomet and Steimatsky's, however. I can browse through the English-language selections in bookstores here, but it's just not the same. The stores are smaller, the selections more limited whereas at Borders I always had the feeling of being a kid let loose in a gigantic candy store.

So many books, so little time! Good-bye, Borders. I, for one, will miss you.


Anonymous James S. Oppenheim said...

In bookstores and libraries, books call to readers. Their covers catch our eye, their presence interacts with "where are we today": sometimes we don't know why we pull from an unfamiliar section a book by an author we have never heard of but think the reading might be interesting. And gambling, we take it home. There's none o' that to look forward to online, especially in an environment data gathering and statistical analysis tell us we might "also like" something that will, in fact, only help us copycat someone else.

Friday, August 26, 2011 at 4:42:00 PM GMT+3  

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