It felt something like a wake, inside one of the four Michigan Borders Bookstores going out of business and selling everything but the kitchen sink (if they had one.)
A group of about 40 vulturous remaining customers picked through the near empty book racks and remains at the Borders Bookstore in Dearborn, Michigan yesterday, trying to take final advantage of a six-week long going out of business sale. That store, along with Borders bookstores in Utica, Grosse Pointe and the smaller Arborland Borders in Anne Arbor are being forced out of business as part of a bankruptcy protection plan. Borders Group Inc., which is the second biggest retailer in the entire state of Michigan, filed for bankruptcy reportedly because of an “inability to adapt to the changing habits of readers.”
Meanwhile, cashiers tried to maintain a professional countenance despite no longer having a job to go to and with few other options for work in the area. One cashier told me “they’re not hiring” at the remaining 28 Borders stores throughout the state that will remain open. And the unidentified cashier confided that a nearby Barnes & Noble store is barely staying open due to similar losses.
It’s hard not to feel bad for the employees, but I personally had mixed emotions as my fiance and I selected 25-plus titles and walked out with two heavy bags of former bestsellers – $425.00 dollars worth of books for just $30.00 and change.
While it is a crying shame to see another “brick and mortar” bookstore sell everything that wasn’t nailed down, I was also thinking about the countless wonderful Independent bookstores forced out of business by these monolithic bookstores.
In total, Borders is closing down 200 of its stores as part of this liquidation, which if successful will fetch between $131 and $148 million dollars. And the future for Borders is definitely not bright, with plans in the works to close another 75 in the not-so-distant future.
The one-time giant 40 year old retailer has no one to blame but itself for it’s losses and closings. According to an article in The Detroit News (http://detnews.com/article/20110216/BIZ/102160379/Borders-files-for-bankruptcy–closing-4-stores-in-Michigan) Borders Bookstores nationwide have lost more than $600 million dollars over the last four fiscal years. The bottom line is that Borders failed to “adapt to rapid changes in the book market,” most glaringly due to the huge number of consumers who are now buying their books online from companies like Amazon.com, now the world’s largest bookseller. The article sites the other cause as Borders “tardy entry last year into the growing electronic reader market dominated by Amazon’s Kindle and rival Barnes & Noble’s Nook.”
Still, call me old-fashioned but there is nothing like the pleasure of going to a bookstore simply to scout the shelves. Even though Amazon now allows consumers to look inside books for sale and, in many cases, even read the first chapter absolutely free, it simply doesn’t compare to how if feels to pick up a book, feel it’s weight in your hands, touch the cover and skim through it’s pages or even sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and get acquainted with a book and it’s author.
But money talks and you-know-what walks, so I bid a sad adieu to another bookstore and try and prepare myself for what author Aldous Huxley called the “Brave New World.”
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an actual old-fashioned book made from paper that I need to get back to reading.