Empty Borders

Sunday Salon—October 2, 2011

Empty Borders

The picture above is making the rounds after being posted by Reddit user Jessers25. One of the reasons I am sad that Borders is closing is that it was the closest bookstore to me, and now with no indie stores (at least none that sell new books—all used bookstores) and Barnes and Noble fairly far away, it’s extremely difficult for this reader to support brick-and-mortar bookstores.

This week I finished [amazon_link id=”0312558171″ target=”_blank” ]The Ballad of Tom Dooley[/amazon_link] by Sharyn McCrumb (review). I also thought about which books I’d like to re-read.

This weekend was a long weekend for me as I work at a Jewish high school, but I am not Jewish myself, so Rosh Hashanah became true time off for me—for my colleagues it is spent in synagogue rather than work, or at least part of it is. Saturday was cold and perfect for curling up with a cup of tea and Aunt Jane, so I dove back into [amazon_link id=”9626343613″ target=”_blank” ]Sense And Sensibility[/amazon_link] again. I listened and read along with the text with my old [amazon_link id=”0553213342″ target=”_blank” ]Bantam copy of the book[/amazon_link], which was the first copy of the book that I bought years ago and read in probably 1998 for the first time. I remember that because it was my first year teaching. I wonder if Ruben Toledo will be designing a cover for it like he did [amazon_link id=”0143105426″ target=”_blank” ]Pride and Prejudice[/amazon_link]? I just love his cover designs.

[amazon_image id=”0143105426″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Pride and Prejudice: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0143105434″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Wuthering Heights: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0143106155″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Jane Eyre: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)[/amazon_image]

[amazon_image id=”0143105442″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Scarlet Letter: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0143106147″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Picture of Dorian Gray: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0143106163″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Dracula: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)[/amazon_image]

Did I miss any of them? Let me know in the comments.

I am also reading [amazon_link id=”0441020674″ target=”_blank” ]Those Across the River[/amazon_link] by Christopher Buehlman for the R.I.P. Challenge. Good so far, and set in my home state of Georgia. I initially suspected that the woods near the Savoyard Plantation were populated with zombies, but I understand that they are probably werewolves instead. I will find out shortly, I suppose.

Today is Matthew Pearl’s birthday! He’s one of my favorite writers. Leave him a birthday wish on Twitter or on his Facebook fan page. I can’t wait for his next book, [amazon_link id=”1400066573″ target=”_blank” ]The Technologists[/amazon_link]. I have enjoyed his previous books:

[amazon_image id=”0812978021″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Last Dickens: A Novel[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0812970128″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Poe Shadow: A Novel[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”034549038X” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Dante Club: A Novel[/amazon_image]

The Sunday Salon

Borders Bookstores to Close Doors

Borders Book Bankruptcy?

I was saddened to hear Borders is closing all of its stores and laying off its 11,000 employees. I just went to my local Borders, the closest bookstore to my home since indie bookstore Coffee Buy the Book closed several years ago, to buy a copy of [amazon_link id=”0439136369″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban[/amazon_link], which Maggie and I are reading together right now. We have had to replace worn Harry Potter titles a few times around our house. Aside from that visit, I can’t remember for sure the last time I made a trip to Borders. I used to go all the time. In fact, some 15 years ago, it was my favorite bookstore, and I used to drive all the way from Winder, where I lived, to a Borders in Gwinnett County near the mall. They had the best selection of any bookstore around, and the addition of music made it worth the trip.

Borders blames their troubles on the market and e-books, and they probably have a point, but they should also blame online purchases of music and movies. While books were their primary product, they also sold DVD’s and CD’s. The market for CD’s has all but vanished. I can’t remember the last CD I bought. I still buy DVD’s because movies take up a lot of real estate on my computer. Surely the dwindling music and DVD sales hurt Borders, too.

Borders closings mean that Barnes and Noble will be the last large chain remaining. I suppose Books-a-Million is still in business, but only in the East and South for the most part, and I have never been fond of them. Of the BAM stores I’ve visited, all have been somewhat untidy and had poor variety of selections. I have to wonder what Barnes and Noble is doing right that is keeping them afloat that Borders failed to do. One possible explanation is that the Nook e-reader seems to have caught on, whereas the Kobo reader didn’t become as popular. Aside from that one (admittedly major) difference, I can’t decide what sets Barnes and Noble apart from Borders: both even have attached coffee houses most of the time. I like the atmosphere in Barnes and Noble a little better I think, but I couldn’t pinpoint why.

Because friends know I have a Kindle and that I keep up with technology, many have asked me about e-readers, and I have always advised them to look at a Kindle or a Nook rather than a Kobo reader. I think that Kobo readers can handle books bought from a variety of places, but Borders’ shaky ground prompted me to feel leery of Kobo’s sustainability. Does anyone know what Borders closings will mean for Kobo readers?

It’s too bad Borders is closing, but I’m glad I didn’t renew my Rewards card now. The writing has really been on the wall for some time. Unfortunately. I truly hope its employees land on their feet and find other work that they love. Somewhat ironic consequence of the closing: I almost have to use online bookstores like Amazon now because all the other local bookstores are too far away for me to visit regularly, just on a whim. We have absolutely no independent bookstores nearby.

Update, July 19:  Macworld has a story about what will happen to Kobo reader owners.

Update, July 21: Slate has some additional thoughts about Borders’ closing, all of which make sense to me.

photo credit: Dave Dugdale

Borders Online

Borders, my favorite offline bookstore, which used to be a partner of my favorite online bookstore, Amazon, has launched its own online version. I really like being an Amazon affiliate. I opted to receive payment in the form of gift certificates from Amazon, and every once in a while I earn enough referral fees to get some free books for my classroom (or for me!) — books I might not ordinarily purchase for various reasons. If Borders online wants to win me over from Amazon, they will need to introduce an affiliate program that beats Amazon’s. However the site design is very attractive, and I will probably browse it for deals when I think Amazon’s prices are too high.