In depressing small town news, our local Borders (well, technically Waldenbooks, but they’re owned by Borders) is closing. This will leave us with nothing more than a Barnes & Noble.
I don’t have anything against B&N — I used to work there — but I’ve come to really love Borders. You don’t have to pay an annual fee to be a Borders Rewards member and take advantage of all the perks that come with it. That’s 30% off coupons or 40% off coupons in your email regularly. The exact same discounts as B&N members get, without the extra shelling out of $25 a year. Plus they don’t have Starbucks. I don’t know that the drinks at their coffee shops are any better, but at least I’m not throwing money down the mermaid well (Sorry, Starbucks, but you just kept burning my hot chocolate — how do you even DO that?!).
But I digress.
Waldenbooks is in the mall. They’ve been having progressively deeper and deeper discounts over the past month, and by the end of the week, they’ll be closed. I’m not sure that there’s anything more depressing than seeing a bookstore whose shelves gradually grow emptier and emptier. Today there were barely enough books and calendars to fill a fifth of the store.
The entire mess just underscores the death of the bookstore in smaller towns. I remember growing up in a town probably a quarter of the size of Topper Town. We never had a big-box bookstore, but for most of my childhood, there was a small independent bookstore downtown. I didn’t get to shop there often — we were more likely to go to the library because I mow through books too fast to buy on a budget and be satisfied — but I loved going in there and strolling through aisles and aisles of books I could, for a small fee, take home with me permanently. It always smelled like books, so it always smelled good. It was small, but it never felt cramped; it felt intimate, like a place where you went to visit with old friends.
Today’s big-box stores just don’t have that same intimate feel. They’re fantastic resources, especially if your tastes tend toward specific, more esoteric topics, but they tend to feel much less personal. It can be overwhelming sometimes. I hate going into a new store and trying to figure out how it’s set up and where the science fiction section is. You can wander those places for days trying to find something, it seems like. But once you get comfortable in them, they feel like home.
Oh, Borders, please bring a store back to us!