Borders Closes All Stores. Cultural Climate Change To Follow

Posted on July 19, 2011

Borders has gone out of business. Another great outlet for hard cover and paperback books is lost to speed the decline of the book.  Another venue for authors to sell their wares and for new authors to be discovered has evaporated.  Electronic books is only part of the story and one cannot blame it all on the economy.  We have made choices.  We are not victims.  Now our choices have led to this.

Now read an excellent summary of what has happened and look for the impact of the last sentence, last paragraph:

“When you lose literally miles of bookshelves, it’s going to have an impact,” said David Young, chief executive of Lagardère SCA’s Hachette Book Group, which Borders owed $36.9 million at the time of its bankruptcy filing. “I hope other retailers will now step up and make offers for what they consider to be the prime sites,” Mr. Young said. “It’s a tragedy Borders didn’t make it through.”

The loss of Borders may also make it more difficult for new writers to be discovered. “The liquidation of Borders is an irreplaceable loss of a big part of the book-discovery ecosystem,” said Michael Norris, a senior analyst at Simba Information, a unit of “Thousands of people whose job consisted of talking up and selling books will eventually being doing something else, and that’s bad for authors, agents, and everyone associated with the value chain in books.”

Mr. Norris said other booksellers, including Barnes & Noble Inc. and Inc., will go after the shoppers who formerly considered themselves Borders customers. “They won’t be able to pick up everyone,” he added. “If shopping at your local Borders is part of your weekly routine, and then Borders is gone, you may end up doing something other than buying books.” [Online Wall Street Journal]

There it is – that BIG last point. People may end up not buying books – may go off and discover something else.  If it’s not in front of a nation of chronic ADD, it will be forgotten.  Increasingly, we find ourselves in front of our electronic appendages: TV, DVR, iPad, and a myriad of devices that can download books and music and movies.

One thing not mentioned much – the loss of a public square in which to meet others who love books and what they have to offer and to discuss them, to browse and to discover.  The socialized, civilized  man diminishes.  We are going another step toward isolation from each other.  We cannot have a social life entirely electronic but we seem to be slipping into it.  Beam me up, Scottie.  I don’t want to live in this vapid new world order.

Family rooms replaced living rooms a long time ago.  Now a quiet corner has been given notice – the nook with the comfortable chair.  Office chair and computer desk; bed with a droid watching a movie, reading a book – that’s the routine now.  Comfort – that of others and a sense of place – gone.  Just computers and peripherals – people peripherals.


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