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.