RIP: Borders Books

I don't know about you, but I have lots of great memories of the times I spent in Borders.
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor

Wow, we've kind of known this was coming, but it's still sad to see one of the great bookstore chains shut its doors forever. It's even sadder for the 11,000 employees about to lose their jobs.

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I don't know about you, but I have lots of great memories of the times I spent in Borders, especially in the coffee shop, meeting people, dating people, participating in local store events, even giving talks to other writers.

Borders, like the big Barnes & Noble stores, was notable in the 1990s for, essentially, putting many of the smaller boutique, mom and pop bookstores out of business. I was complicit in this behavior, for as soon as a Borders and Barnes & Noble came into the Princeton area (where I was living at the time), they became my regular haunts. Borders and Barnes & Noble had more books, more magazines, more media, and -- to me, most important -- they had coffee.

I can't count the number of articles I wrote on my Palm handheld and portable keyboard in the local Borders, or the number of happy Saturdays spent browsing among the stacks. I never seemed to be able to get out of there for less than $80, for there was always something delightful or interesting I just had to read.

Back then, in Princeton, the Borders was right next to another future dinosaur corpse: CompUSA. On many of those Saturdays, I'd drive down, wander through the CompUSA, happily complaining about whatever annoyed me about CompUSA on that day, and then having a pleasant caffeinated beverage right next door at the Borders. Sadly, both stores are now closed -- and even more sad, the buddy I'd often meet down there has also long since passed away. Good times. Good times, indeed.

But the Internet has eclipsed all that. As I discussed yesterday, I now rely on the convenience of Amazon Prime. I've traded in most of my printed editions for digital Kindle books, and the days of the the great community bookstores are clearly behind us.

Borders, of course, is not without blame. They tried to keep up, after denying the power of the Internet for so long. But, like today's newspapers, they were so tied to old business models that those models eventually pulled them underwater.

So, for all those great times, I thank Borders. But, ultimately, Borders RIP.

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