July 25, 2011

Another one bites the dust

Borders book store has filed for bankruptcy, and the sell off has begun. It actually started on Friday and I was initially surprised at how much stuff was left today. A few months ago when they were trying to stay alive, they shut down some of their less productive stores. When I stopped by one of the earlier closures, it looked like a carcass picked nearly clean. Most of the floor space was empty, and the remaining shelves held only a few neglected books.

The store today was filled with shoppers and barely looked different from a normally stocked store. Aside from all the signs dangling from the ceiling that is.

I suppose it is early in the going-out-of-business sellathon, but the deals were not that great. Most books were 10% -20% off, which isn't much better than typical. I didn't really have any money in the budget for books, but I wanted to stop by for some reason. Maybe to note the passing of another brick and mortar store. I did pick up a magazine for 40% off though.

I hadn't been in a Borders in a while, and I suppose that is part of the problem. Many people buy online, or have moved to e-readers. Borders was late to adjust to the new market and suffered the consequences. Their initial online presence was actually built and run by Amazon.com, one of the companies that put them out of business. Barnes and Noble seems to be struggling but surviving, having jumped online early and created their own Nook e-reading device.

The big box stores chased out the small bookstores, and now they have been pushed out by online stores. I think there is still a place for a brick and mortar bookstore, but it may be back at the smaller level. For all the "If you bought this, you might be interested in this" recommendations spit out by online algorithms, there is nothing like a recommendation from a knowledgeable reader and bookseller. There was a great little store where I used to live, and I always enjoyed stopping there for a new read.

To save money, I haven't been buying many books anywhere lately. I had a small stack of unread books, but most of the books I read these days come from the library. But I hope bookstores can survive in this new climate. There really is nothing like wandering the stacks with a cup of coffee, letting a cover or glowing recommendation lead you to a new author, and a whole new world.

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