Can I Get a Moment of Silence for Borders Books & Music, Please?
All the kids I knew growing up had cool parents who dropped them off at the mall, complete with a credit card for impulse shopping ease. My friend Sophia’s mom would joke with her, “Try not to spend too much, honey” as she opened her wallet and handed over that treasured piece of plastic. I’d stare at her with envy in my eyes, shooting virtual daggers at her very existence. Sophia would turn to me and say, “are you sure you can’t go?” And for a fleeting moment I’d fantasize about lying to my parents so I could spend the day with her. I imagined eating at Sabarro pizza, buying trendy clothes at the shopping boutiques, and flirting with boys by the penny-for-your-thoughts fountain. Despite that millisecond of mental rebellion, my inner “good-girl” moral code knew it was wrong, so I politely declined each time. (Damn you, conscience!)
My parents, on the other hand, were a different breed. They were (and still are, for that matter) bookworms, or “bookies” as I referred to them (I love the elusive “illegal” taste that word leaves in your mouth despite the fact that it couldn’t be farther from the truth). A book store represented a children’s “safe-zone” to both my mom and dad, so when a brand new Borders opened up down the street, they were ecstatic. After receiving my hundredth “no” for requesting a drop off at the mall, I gave into their Borders alternative. “Fine!” I mumbled in defeat. “Just please drop me off down the street so I don’t look lame.” My dad chuckled, told me I was being “silly” and grabbed the car keys. Dropping me off down the street was out of the question. It was always curbside service.
From the moment I walked in their automatic doors, there was something about the smell of Borders that I found calming. It was a mixture of recently bound books, fresh coffee concoctions prepared by the baristas in the back, and the mild scent of lemon pledge. Employees paced the store greeting customers, offering assistance, and making suggestions with a smile. It was immaculate like a museum, yet it felt like a house I’d lived in for years. And there, on my very first visit, I fell in love. To hell with smelly malls and crowded movie theaters, my parents were onto something!
As with countless others, you can imagine my disappointment when I heard my beloved Borders Books and Music was going out of business. I bought my first (official) diary there, listened to Hole’s Live Through This album on repeat (the store clerks never said a word!), and sat for hours skimming fashion magazines, reading classic novels, and true crime thrillers. I saw my first naked man flipping the pages of a photography book there, for god’s sake. Well, it was either that, or Harvey Keitel in The Piano. I’m not sure. But most importantly, I now understand how those young Harry Potter fans feel – the closure of Borders is like the death of my childhood. (Insert sad face here)
As it stands, Borders began liquidating their remaining 399 stores this past Friday. Sadly that leaves their 10,700 employees in a less than savory spot. So where do we go from here? Are bookstores going to evaporate over the next few years while everyone converts to the land of Kindles and e-textbook rentals? I’m pretty sure I just heard Circuit City roll over in their grave (May they rest in peace). No one knows what the future holds, but just as Netflix conquered Blockbuster, I’ll bet that virtual page flipping is going to dominate what’s left of our book stores. So much for cruising bookshelves, skimming titles while sipping on a latte, and taking in the sweet aroma of the printed page. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to enjoy these simple pleasures while I still can. Au revoir, Borders. You had me at ‘Books and Music’.