I’ve long been a fan of Borders and rejoiced when a store opened in Folsom, California, half an hour from the small town where I live in the Sierra Foothills of California. My hubby and I would often stop by after dinner on a date night. He knew a visit to Borders would be better than dessert to his book-loving wife.
I watched the slow process of Border’s demise with sadness. When each store-closure list hit cyberspace, I scrolled through them, breathing a sigh of relief when the Folsom store wasn’t there. I’m one of many who hoped that a buyer would rescue the chain and wept when July 17th came and went and no one had stepped forward.
On Friday, July 22nd the Going Out of Business Sale began. The Folsom store opened at 9 a.m., and I was there, as was a disappointed TV crew. There weren’t long lines of bargain hunters eager to get inside. Like the reporter, I was surprised, and yet I was also relieved. I’d not come to grab all I could get. I’d come to say goodbye, and I was happy to do so without a crowd of witnesses.
For over five years I’ve been writing. One of the ways I kept myself motivated was to visit Borders, head to the Christian Fiction section, and imagine seeing my book on the shelf. I’d come to know the names of my potential shelf mates well. When I visited the section that day, I saw that the book that would have been to the right of mine was Bittersweet by Cathy Marie Hake. “How fitting,” I thought, as my dream of visiting “my” Borders store to see my debut novel faded.
The sale at Borders will continue until some time in August or September, but the store has already ceased to exist. A liquidator has taken possession, a fact I learned when I handed the clerk a Borders coupon she couldn’t accept.
At present much of the merchandise is only marked down by 10%, although some sections reflect 20, 30, or 40% savings. I anticipate the prices will drop as the sale continues.
The atmosphere in the Folsom store when I visited Friday was one of sadness. I think many of those present were there as I was, to mourn the passing of an era. Times are changing, and the big-box bookstores are on the way out. Most of those I talked with cite the advent of digital books as a reason, although some agree that Amazon has had an effect. Some postulated that we might see a resurgence of indy bookstores.
One thing I found surprising was the attitude of the young people I spoke with who were perusing the shelves in the Young Adult section. I asked them if they preferred reading paper or e-books. They were quick to respond with “paper.” One young woman was adamant as she told me she would “never” buy an e-reader. Hearing such a declaration from one so young did this dinosaur writer’s heart good.
I returned to the store on Saturday, driven by curiosity. Somehow I wanted to know that Borders would be missed by more than a handful. Relief filled my heart when I found the store resembling Christmas Eve with the line for the registers snaking halfway across the store. I’m sure some were there for the bargains, but I prefer to think they, too, were there to bid Borders farewell and had simply been at work the day before.
Will I return for another visit before the doors are locked for good? No. I’ve paid my final respects and will move on, but I have memories of Borders I’ll treasure for years to come.
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How do you feel about Borders going out of business?
What reasons do you give for the chain’s demise?
Where do you get most of the books you buy?