I had just finished some business at a local mall and decided to stop by my local Borders, Books and Music to relax for a little bit. Much to my displeasure, the store I frequent had closed since my last visit. While I had paid some attention to the recent news developments that the Borders Group (the company that owns Borders and Waldenbooks) had declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy and follow that by closing some two-hundred stores. It just never really hit home until I saw a bookstore that I had frequented since childhood, where I had spent countless hours and formed many happy memories in its aisles, with the windows shuttered and doors closed for good.
Very few people would argue that the bookstore chains are in trouble. Much like the music industry before it when MP3’s became the music format of choice and CD vendors shut their doors, technology, in particular the rise of eBooks like the Amazon Kindle or the Apple iPad, to say nothing of online shopping, may in the coming years do the same to brick-and-mortar bookstores. Combined with the state of the economy, and it its understandable why the future of bookstores is looking grim.
What makes me sad above all else about the decline of the bookstore, is that I had a hand in killing them. Places like Borders have been a big part of my life, ranging from reading books there in my school years and off days in the military to sipping coffee in the cafe on a rainy day. So how do I repay these sanctuaries? I buy my books online or increasingly, on my Kindle. I even wrote a product review touting the virtues of the Kindle on this very website. The last time I was in a brick-and-mortar bookstore, I was there for the free Wi-Fi, and left the store without buying a thing. For most other people, I’m sure that their experiences are similar. As a result, it’s looking more and more like Borders and Barnes & Noble may go the way of the record stores.
In the end, losing bookstores is a tragedy, as there is just something special about the atmosphere that bookstores always seem to have. They always seem warm and welcoming, and have always been one of the few stores I could spend days in. That sole Borders alone claimed hundreds of hours of my life, ranging from reading comic books and playing Pokémon cards there when I was a child, browsing books and listening to musicians in the cafe when I was older. Throughout the years, it was one of my favorite places in the area, and now, all I can do is sit in the empty parking lot of an empty building and remember the good old days.
I sincerely hope that the bookstore chains can recover from this, before the page turns on yet another wonderful aspect of the world I love.