I confess that I read with some sadness that the major American bookstore chain, Borders, is finally to close. Admittedly this has been on the cards for some time. The Borders stores in the UK and Ireland had already closed their doors some time ago, and last year the company announced the closure of several of their outlets in the United States. But now the game is up, and from the autumn there will be no more Borders shops anywhere.

With Borders closing, and Waterstones in the UK struggling somewhat, we may not have to wait too long before all the major bookstore chains have folded. Barnes & Noble in the US seem to be still holding their own, and of course we have the online presence of Amazon (whose success has been a major factor in the failure of the others).

Why should I be sad? Not very long ago Borders and Barnes & Noble were being portrayed everywhere as the big bullies of the book-selling world and the destroyers of smaller bookshops. The movie You’ve Got Mail had this as one of its key themes. But in fact, I always found Borders a rather good place to browse, and I rather liked the atmosphere I found there – not least because they had introduced the books-and-coffee theme that somehow seemed so civilised.

But now reading is moving online, and that’s the way it goes. I cannot complain, because that’s how I do much of my buying and reading. But I would like to think that the small independent bookshop, many of which have managed to survive, will still stay in the game. In fact, I’ll make a point of shopping in one this week.

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2 Comments on “Borderless”

  1. Vincent Says:

    Bookshops, old school, were a place of class. They were a feature of county towns in much the same way as we’ve the small dress shop run by the widowed sister of the local almost bigshot. There tended to be at least four to a town. Liberal, conservative, dissenter and the outright radical. Those that were a bit tight for cash you had the local library. Then as a response to the amalgamation of publishers and attendant rationalization. Places like Dillons Waterstones B&N et al sprang up and strangled the local po-faced witch for they could see fat to be rendered. And with the smashing of the publishers cartel on pricing, that rendering became truly profitable.
    So, why then are we going back to a form of cartel. And frankly why on earth are the university publishing sections not entering the huge gaping gap by joining together in the aether to publish work that might have a life. Nor is there any need to be precious for the rep of the existing House. We all distinguish between Penguin Classics and the rest.

  2. upmg Says:

    I’m just back from the states, (Orlando, Florida to be precise); and I was shocked to see no bookshops, (bargain or otherwise) at any of the 4 big malls we visited over our 2 week holiday. (There were also no music shops present either mind).

    I did find one Barnes and Noble close to one of them and when I asked about the lack of bookshops across the malls they claimed that a number of their own B&Ns had closed recently and that bookshops in general were suffering quite heavily.

    Either way not a good state of affairs.

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