What: Book Store Chain
Where: Sterling, Virginia
Preface: This blog will chronicle my experiences spending time reading and writing in various bookstores and coffee shops. (All of these things- reading, writing, coffee, and bookstores- were made for each other. Don’t deny it.) I’m going to begin by sharing a recent experience at a Borders store, which as you may know is going out of business. This seems like an appropriate place to start for a blog about bookstores. Although I find it disappointing that Borders is closing, my hope is that this might open more doors for independent booksellers. Because, let’s be honest, it’s so much cooler to spend time at and buy books from charming, magical indie bookstores than it ever was to do the same at Borders. Ew, they were so corporate and mainstream. (Which obviously didn’t work too well for them.) No, but seriously, who doesn’t love an independent book store or a cute cafe? Am I right?
The Borders Experience
Alright, technically I’m not blogging from Borders. They haven’t completely vanished from the planet yet, but this particular one did away with all of the big cozy chairs that they used to have scattered around the store and also closed down the cafe area. I wasn’t about to sit down on the floor and whip out my laptop amongst hordes of obnoxious shoppers who had never set foot inside of a bookstore until today. “Oh my god! Things on sale! Don’t know what books are, but must buy them!” Literally, this is how everyone in the store was acting.
Never in my life have I ever seen a Borders Books so crowded. I used to spend hours in that store without hearing one peep from anybody. In the past, I probably could have died behind a shelf in the literature section and spent days lying on the floor before another human found me. (Which, I guess is why they are going out of business.) But, god, put a “Going out of business!” sign on the window and just watch how the masses flock into the store.
The thing is though, the “10-40% Off! Everything must go!” gimmick, was exactly that, a gimmick. All of the literature and anything worth buying was only 10% off. So, where previously ‘The Pale King’ (which I have been meaning to purchase) was $27.99, now I could get it for $25.20. Whoop-de-fricken-do! I’m pretty sure I would have gotten the same deal with my Borders Rewards card. Try again, Borders. Things that were 20% off included all of the cheesy, drugstore Romance novels, puzzles, boxes that held various objects of useless nature, music, and DVD’s. Not very compelling, especially considering how expensive their DVD’s and CD’s are. 20% off brings them down to a normal price.
Reference books, cookbooks, and “How To” books were the only things marked 30% off, and I spent a good half hour walking around the damn store trying to find the promised 40% off. Because, listen Borders, if you’re going out of business, you should be giving me your books for free. You should be handing them over to me in piles saying, “Please, Katie. Please take all of these for free.” Not, “Meh. Have 10% off of Literature.”
I searched and searched for anything that was makred 40% off and was almost convinced that I had been falsely advertised to until I saw it; the purple 40% off sign. There it was, posted so mockingly in none other than the Magazine section. I should have known. I mean, no offense to magazines or anything, I like them just as much as the next person. But, really Borders? Really? You’re going out of business and the best you can offer me is 40% off glossy paper that will end up at the bottom of my recycling bin in a week? Thanks, but no thanks.
And another thing. How much money did you waste printing a googleplex of your “10-40% OFF! EVERYTHING MUST GO!” and “STORE CLOSING! GOING OUT OF BUSINESS!” signs? There were like 4 of each hanging over every aisle. Like, just in case you forgot that we were going out of business since you were in the last aisle, let us just rub it obnoxiously in your face again. And again. And again.
So, where Borders used to be a place of general silence and sometimes good deals on books, now it will spend it’s final days as more of a jungle. A jungle full of people who don’t actually read, carrying around stacks of magazines and digging through piles of paperbacks looking for a copy of Twilight.
Is this a good place for writing or reading?: Absolutely not. (Not anymore, at least.)
Bonus points: Overheard conversations–
Girl 1: “So Borders isn’t going to exist anymore?”
Girl 2: “No, they’re bankrupt. That’s why I’m crying.”
Don’t cry girl, there are plenty of independent bookstores left to fill all of your book needs.