Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Disappearing Act

Please indulge for one day, I'm going to stray from the usual today. In no way is this post directly related to running, health, fitness, nutrition, food... basically any of the topics I normally cover. Instead it's about book stores.

There have been rumours for a few years now, that Borders, a national bookstore chain based in Michigan, has been on shaky grounds. I remember meetings when I was working for a record label when we'd talk about the situation Borders was in and how they were decreasing the number of album titles they'd stock in stores. Now I'm reading articles about the latest on Borders, holding off payments to publishers and some distributors are ceasing shipments.

I love going to bookstores. When I was in middle school and high school there wasn't a whole lot to do in our town (I was not one to go looking for trouble) so my friends and I would often hang out at the local coffee shop which was attached to a bookstore. Woody and I still can spend hours looking through books adding to our long list of books to read. Kind of like going to a record store. Putting on the massive headphones that are invariably too big, to try out as many albums as possible before settling on a few to take home. It seems that not as many people like to hang out in bookstores and record shops as they used to. This past Saturday Woody and I made a trip uptown to the big Barnes & Noble store at Lincoln Center. It was one of the best bookstores in the city, until it closed it's doors for good Sunday night.

While I spend a huge amount of my time online, it does make me a little sad to see these places go. They are great places to meet friends, to find new and exciting treasures and of course, they're a great source of jobs, too. One of the saddest things about the possible demise of Borders is that it could result in thousands of more jobs lost in Michigan, where the employment levels are already so low. I get that people are buying fewer books, hey, our own use of the library far outweighs the number of books we purchase now, and I do see the benefits of e-readers and buying online, but I still find it sad to see book stores close - local shops too.

Some people are happy to see big chains close, not because people lose their jobs, of course, but because they often put the local stores out of business when they open. I definitely appreciate and love to support small businesses, and there are some big ones that I'd rather not see expand any more than they have, but I do not like to see people lose their jobs or opportunities to be exposed to things like books and music be diminished.  Who knows though, maybe if Borders does close, some of those employees will go and open their own small bookshops. Now, that would be a great thing.

How do you feel about this?
today's workout -
50min/5.6mile elliptical
3x10 leg press
3x10 hammer curl
3x10 bicep curl


Molly said...

I have such a love affair with bookstores. When I was a kid I went to an independent store every week. And I still miss the original Strand! But I can appreciate the big guys too. What I'm curious about is the whole kindle/nook thing. I see the appeal, but I love the feel of an actual book. Do you think books will become obsolete??

misszippy said...

I'm with you on this. It's sad to see print drying up! I could spend days in bookstores and never tire of them. Hopefully there are enough of us out there to keep some in business.

Barbara said...

We still have a Barnes and Noble in East Lansing and 2 Shuler's which are great. Your Dad's book has been sold for years at Borders. This hasn't hit the news here in Lansing , probably because we're almost immune to job loss announcements. So sad..

NY Wolve said...

I remember the original Borders on State Street in Ann Arbor, before it was a chain, and even before it moved down the street in A2. It was a great store (which I think is now an Urban Outfitters.) I also remember when they built that Barnes and Noble and how crowded it used to be! (I used to live across Columbus Ave from that store, and actually watched them build the building from my apartment.) I had no idea it was closing.

Unfortunately, book stores will go the way of record stores. I can remember growing up and going to the local record store to hear music. Now, I wouldn't know where to even buy a CD, much less a record.

The rumor always was that the hardest test in Ann Arbor was the test you had to take to be a clerk in Borders. You had to have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of literature.

Rose said...

Going to book stores is dangerous for me, because I always walk out with a minimum of 4 books. My favorite book stores, though, are used book stores, because I can buy 10 books without hitting my wallet too hard. I almost never see other people in used book stores, though, which makes me super sad. They're way cheaper than buying used books online (no shipping), and they're usually filled with my favorite kinds of books (murder mysteries). There's a shop by my house owned by this amazing couple, who will talk to you about your favorite books, and make recommendations based on what specific things you like about those books. So far they have been SPOT ON.

Steph said...

This is so sad - even though the closest Borders if about 30 minutes away - my boyfriend and I opt to go there sometimes instead of Barnes and Noble. Bummer to hear that news...

Detroit Runner said...

My family also loves Borders. I don't know how they cannot make money. Every time we are there, there is a huge line of people and alway people there drinking their coffee as well. I can't imagine if they went out of business. We would have to start going to Barnes & Noble but they don't have as good of prices. Being in Michigan, we do hear more about Borders. It's not a good sign that their vendors are not working with them. Hopefully they can hang on. Unfortunately they have lost a tremendous amount of money not just over the past year but many years.

AM-GoalsfortheWeek said...

great topic. and's a sign of the times I guess. So now..let's just think in lieu of bookstores there will be...(fill in the blank). I feel like there will always have to be a social hub of consumerism that keeps us together right?

Grace said...

Borders is my favorite retailer. I really hope there's a customer mini-revolution that helps save it!