Monday, July 25, 2011

A Big Box Eulogy

I feel like I should say a few words regarding Borders Bookstores’ recent passing.  But I’m not sure what those words are.

Like with most corporations whose services I’ve sporadically employed I feel only a faint attachment; an attachment made more tenuous by the fact that I know no human person who will be dramatically affected by its demise (i.e. employees; CEOs).  We were kind of fair weather friends.  I guess if I’ll miss anything about Borders, it’s the little things.  Like the logo.  The book signings (only took advantage of that once, a Molly Ringwald signing in Sacramento last year with my friend Sara; MR was is and forever will be the Queen of the ‘80s).  The spatial layouts of the ones I knew well.  The extra weight the Borders Reward card adds to my wallet.  The Seattle’s Bests.  The member emails (well maybe not).

I guess the thing I’ll miss the most is the actual experience of going to Borders.  It’s been a go-to time-killer for years.  (Equation: Nothing to do + Borders proximity.)  Going to Borders usually meant strolling into the air conditioning; casually perusing the Best Sellers and Featured books on the front tables (prompting many an engaging political discussion; the Glenn Becks and Sarah Palins ripe for skewering); making my way past the CDs and DVDs, recoiling at the high costs; waiting as my boyfriend got his nerd fix in the fantasy aisle; grabbing a latte or a $4 clearance cookbook; brushing past the calendar displays (kittens, Yosemite, Justin Bieber); picking up chocolate impulse buys at the Ghirardelli display case; and if it was an ambitious Going to Borders, I’d head for the Literature rows and run my hand from A to Z, in search of the newest addition to My Beautiful Bookshelf.

But my purchases have been dwindling, all the more so since I developed an invigorated love of used bookstores.  Also since iTunes.  Since Netflix.  I suppose a lot of other people weren’t making purchases either.  I don’t have a head for business and I don’t know, or couldn’t tell you, exactly why Borders failed; some people blame the Internet.  Or prices, or something like that.  (This is the point where I usually opt out of earnest discussion to avoid sounding like an idiot.)  It just strikes me as strange how the conqueror of the mom-and-pop has itself been conquered by these new technological/corporate frontiers, all in the space of a couple decades.  Yet there are still "mom-and-pops", thankfully.  Which is where you’ll find me, and now all the more so.  (In terms of go-to time-killing, however, I've yet to find a suitable substitute.)

So goodbye Sunnyvale El Camino Real Borders.  Goodbye San Francisco Stonestown Borders.  Goodbye Sacramento Fair Oaks Borders.  Goodbye San Jose Santana Row Borders.  (Am I forgetting anybody?)  And goodbye Davis Borders, where I slaughtered so many hours; I think I’ll miss you most of all.

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