In bad news for readers, booksellers (and of course, the thousands of people who work in its stores), Borders announced yesterday that it will close every single one of its 399 stores. Borders hit a rough patch last February, forcing the company to declare bankruptcy and close a third of its locations. With the hope that investors would buy out its remaining locations, Borders tried to sustain consumer interest with big discounts and yummier cookies in the cafe. It was all in vain; the bookstore giant will vanish from strip malls and suburbs around the country.
Borders Books was one of the pioneers of large-scale book selling, and its demise seems like the latest, clearest sign of changing trends in the bookselling world. With the rising popularity of e-readers and MP3s, trips to the book store have become an unnecessary burden for some, much in the same way that digital downloading affected the purchasing of CDs. Borders' failure to adapt to these shifting trends is being cited as a primary cause of its demise, as Barnes and Noble has seen an annual increase in profits due to the marketing of the Nook, its e-reader.
Just as it is with the fall of any titan, the news is bittersweet. On the one hand, independent-bookstore owners have a reason to rejoice, as they can only stand to profit from the closing of these "big-box monstrosities." On the other hand, its closing will affect nearly 10,000 workers who will be out of jobs, and reduce the presence and availability of paper books, especially outside major cities, where independent bookstores are rare.
Personally, I'm torn between the two spheres, as I was a fan of Borders' coffee and air-conditioning. But unlike the mass of consumers who seem to be frantically scratching themselves, unsure of how to obtain books without Borders, I've always known of a really cool place that supplies the best discounts for book addicts: the library.