Goodbye Borders

Growing up I lived in a very small town. We had all of two bookstores in town. One of them was a locally owned bookstore, that is probably jumping for joy at this news, because its main competition in town is the Waldenbooks store in the mall. Of course that little local bookstore still has to compete with the paltry collections you find in Safeway and (a very small) Walmart, but you can bet that they are going to start getting a lot more business now.

Oddly enough, most of the time I lived in that city, we only visited the locally owned store a few times, mostly because the more we shopped at Waldenbooks the more discounts we got, not to mention we were also heavy library users. But because the local bookstore was in a part of town I rarely visited, I was mostly unaware of its existence for a long time.

It makes me wonder how many people in town are standing in the mall looking at that Waldenbooks that will soon be disappearing and wondering how in the world they are going to get their books. How many of them don’t know about the small bookstore downtown? And how many of them will finally make the plunge into e-readers because they think they don’t have much of a choice left outside of ordering books online? And, of course, how many of them will start visiting the library more often?

It provides a bit of irony for me to think about the death of a chain meaning that the locally owned bookstore will gain new life, when chains could often result in small businesses shutting down because they couldn’t compete. I’m definitely glad that the small little bookstore downtown in my home town has stuck it out throughout the years. Because it means for those people who prefer paper to electronic mediums, they will still have at least one good place to buy books (though I sincerely hope that the library will always be available for them to borrow from).

But I can’t help but wonder if there are towns out there with struggling libraries (or even none!) and only a Borders or Waldenbooks as a places to find reading materials outside of grocery store selections. So, it is a bittersweet farewell that I bid to Borders. I dearly hope that there aren’t any people out there left without a bookstore or library.

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