Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 296: When a Giant Falls

I've often found myself wandering into this local Borders, finding great comfort in the quiet, carpeted aisles, surrounded by words and stories and thoughts of centuries. And while I was away for school a couple years back, the same familiar carpet and layout and signage of another Borders kept me going back on lonely evenings, the sight of beloved authors and texts and even book covers there to assuage me.

These Borders stores represented for me havens of enjoyment and learning. Yet at the same time, this mega-bookstore chain, when it first emerged, had meant the demise of those little book shops here and there, those independently owned private nooks of passionate readers and book connoisseurs.

Yet even so, to first hear about the actual downfall of this bookstore giant was surprising, disappointing, and a little bit unbelievable; how could Borders be closing?! It couldn't be true.

To wander into the same Borders I've wandered into many times before, and to see the garish, frightening red and yellow signs claiming, "Everything Must Go!" was disconcerting. To see the tables and shelves bare, with a few books scattered here and there in messy disarray, the empty transparent book stands, the endless sale stickers, was upsetting; I felt like crying, and I still don't know why. But it was sad. Perhaps it was a sad thought that these books may not find a final home, that they are being replaced and ignored because of eReaders and tablets. Can a Kindle ever replace the scent of a fresh book? Can a Nook ever bring that satisfaction you get from feeling the slightly rough texture of the page, the way it feels when your finger touches it, and you know then that a new turn in the story awaits? Would Belle not have been thoroughly disgruntled to find that the big "surprise" was not a beautiful open room filled with endless shelves and rows of books, but rather this cold tablet with a stylus sitting on a glass table?

Borders, I found, is closing. And when a giant falls, the people come to see. If the signs and sale stickers were not obvious, the line of people suddenly interested in cashing in those gift cards was: it spread from its bunched up mass near the register, all the way to the back of the store, spanning the back wall, and curving around again out to the front. 

Borders is indeed closing, and so I lose a friend, and a refuge.


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