Like most writers, I love bookstores and hate seeing one close. When there were plenty of them, I was picky. For example, I was always more of a Barnes & Noble gal than a Borders gal because Barnes & Noble felt cozier — even after one local store removed their comfy armchairs and another started chaining their wooden armchairs together so you couldn’t move them off into a corner to read. (Truly annoying!) Still, I go back.
So even though Borders has only ranked #2 in my book (no pun intended), I’m sorry to see it go bust. As we all know, bookstores all over the world have been closing. Sign of the digital times. So last night, knowing that my local Woodland Hills, California Borders (one of the last 400 to get the ax) would be closing in two days, I decided to go there to say goodbye. I went with a little guilt in my heart — perhaps I never gave Borders a chance. Perhaps I should have spent more time in their coffee shop with my laptop. After all, unlike Barnes & Noble, they’d actually kept their comfy arms chairs for readers to sit in. Had I been too harsh in judging Borders?
I also went there expecting some hot deals — like 75% off. As I walked in past hundreds of garish red, black and yellow “Going out of Business” and “Everything Must Go” signs, I heard a woman muttering to herself as she looked through the merchandise, “It’s so sad.” I was sad, too — there were no hot deals! Twenty to thirty percent off in this economy, and in this “last gasp” situation, is not a “hot” deal. That’s an everyday deal. I know this is like complaining about the food at a funeral reception — but I couldn’t help but wonder how on earth Borders expected to get rid of all that stuff (and there was a LOT of stuff) in just two days at only 20% to 30% off. It made no fiscal sense — which in turn made me think that this might all tie in to Border’s larger financial problems — a certain disconnect with the surrounding realities perhaps? But who knows? It’s not my area of expertise. All I know is I said my goodbyes quickly, took a few pictures for this blog, and left without buying a thing.
I still love bookstores. I’ll still grieve whenever one closes. But the new publishing realities (e-books, self-publishing, print-on-demand, becoming your own publishing company, online book marketing and even the Espresso Book Machine — see my July 31st post) have been knocking on the door for years and it’s time to answer the knock and learn how to love, take advantage of, and profit from them — even if it means we have to buy our very own comfy arm chair to sit down in and read.