12 September 2011

My last trip to Borders

Enough has been written of the demise of the print industry.  I’m certainly not going to dispute any of that - it’s been years since I’ve frequented any bookstore on a consistent basis.  This just feels more than just a store closing.  Part of me feels like I’m watching another part of my youth fade away.


Growing up, heading out to bookstores and libraries with my mom was a big thing for me.  They were the first places outside of our immediate neighborhood where we’d go and I’d be free to roam.  My mom had an insane love for books and it was something she wanted to share with me, whether it was going to the tiny Bezazian branch of the Chicago Public Library down the street, or downtown to the big honkin’ Kroch's and Brentano's (RIP), Crown (RIP) or B. Dalton (RIP).  In my high school and college years I remember stopping in as many new and used book stores as I could find while on our numerous cross – city vinyl hunting expeditions.  (Maybe it was the hunt that inspired me – that undiscovered book as sweet to find as any hot track dug up in the day’s crate digs.) 

borders_2Ultimately when I had my own kids I fell back on that same strategy my mom had and also took them to the local library, as well as the BAM down the street (now closed).  We’d still hit up a Borders or Barnes & Noble when we saw one (easy since you could count on at least one of them being in any mall we’d go to) but more often than not I ended up not actually buying anything for me anymore.  I never needed to get the latest releases, and there usually wasn’t anything that I found that I had to get right then and there.  If I couldn’t find a used copy at Half Price Books later on I was always willing to bet I’d find it cheaper on the internet anyway. 

Ereader?  I was hesitant at first - the geek in me more interested in hacking it for a knock off tablet, but once I eventually got to using for it’s intended purpose?  Game over. Geez how did I ever live without you? 

borders_3So while it’s sad to think my kids might not spend hours aimlessly wandering the stacks of ridiculously huge bookstores like I used to, I’ve got to admit I understand why. 

Another nail in the coffin?  Even with 80% off (plus 15% more if you walked out with six things) I still only ended up pulling one book off the stacks just for me.  The rest of the loot went to my wife and kids, who still for the most part think books still only exist in paper form.

Books will still be around, I’m sure.  (Vinyl was supposed to die too, you know.)  Maybe we’ll have one or two major retailers standing for a while, maybe not.  I’ll still take my kids to whatever bookstores are around  and we’ll still drop in on the library like my mom used to do.  While my ereader will likely become a permanent fixture at my nightstand, I’m sure I’ll still make space for a ‘real’ book when I find one I can’t pass up.

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