Early this morning news broke that Borders was finally filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy after unsuccessfully trying to reorganize and cut jobs to make the company viable. Their demise was avidly tracked and updated frequently over the past few months on twitter by publishing pundits, bloggers and booksellers.
While I do believe that many current business models for booksellers must be reformatted for changing times, Borders’ downfall has had a surprisingly emotional effect on me and many other bibliophiles (check #myfirstborders for memories on twitter). For many of us, it seems, Borders was one of the first places where we really discovered and enjoyed books. Before Borders came to Akron, Ohio in the early 1990s, the only place I could look at and get books was from unappealing and cramped Waldenbooks stores in the mall. Having been an avid reader even as a young kid, it was really disappointing to have to browse there; the selection was limited and the shelves were so high and narrow that I could barely squeeze by other patrons to find books. When the Borders was opened, it was a like a whole new world. Every other Friday, my parents would drive up to Akron as a treat and I would get lost in the spacious bookshelves, where books were neatly organized and I could pick up staff recommendations to discover new authors. And after cramming my arms full of books and magazines, I could stumble over to the café and flip through everything at my leisure with a big hot chocolate and a cookie with my mom and dad. Of course now, this kind of bookstore set up is almost de rigueur in all the big box bookstores, but at the time it felt really unique and special. And while I always try to support local and independent bookstores, the sad truth is that not everyone had or has access to them. I certainly didn’t as a kid. But I had Borders and it still holds a really magical and nostalgic place in my childhood which is why I really do want them to succeed, somehow. Hopefully bankruptcy will force them to adopt a strategy that is more in line with the current market and they will be able to re-discover who their customers are and draw them back in with better marketing and programs.
Borders also released a list of under-performing stores that are being closed in the coming months and Columbus’s 2 stores are slated to close. However, my childhood store will stay up and running for the time being, which secretly makes me very happy (though admittedly, it is not the Borders I remember from my childhood :/)
You can check this website that Borders created concerning the bankruptcy for more updates and details on how it will impact customers and employees.
What are your thoughts about Borders closing? Do you have any special Borders memories?