Sunday, July 24, 2011

Borders Closing

I bought my first erotica book at a Barnes and Noble. It wasn't really all that erotic, per se; it was a gay vampire novel. But it was the first book I ever owned, bought with my own money, that portrayed sex between two people in all its graphic detail and sticky mess.

But buying those kinds of books from B&N wasn't so easy back then. There was no erotica section of my local branch, only romance; and anyway, they didn't stock the kind of books I was hungry for, even if I didn't know it back then.

Then I discovered Borders, and the situation changed. Suddenly, I had a whole bookshelf devoted to the kind of anti-purple-prose I craved; I could pick by author, by genre, even by publisher. It was awesome.

Yesterday, for the last time, I visited the erotica section of my local Borders bookstore. Borders is closing--all of the branches. The liquidation sale going on as I type this post. They'll be gone completely sometime in September.

Now that the end is near, now that it's a done deal with no heroic savior coming forth out of the shadows to save the company from its final doom in sight (and really, if a savior did suddenly come forward, there would be no possible way to save the company anyway--the body has jumped the building, all we as spectators can do is watch and gasp in horror as it plummets), I remember all the times I spent at Borders, all the hours enjoying their spacious floors and well organized shelves, drinking in the smell of coffee and boxes and books. The times I brought my kids to browse and and listen to their story-tellers. The afternoon I spent at one of their tables with my sister, crying because I'd recently lost a friend. She bought me a book on how to grieve and move on.

A wise woman once told me you cannot expect something to be there for you only when you need it, if you don't support it during times you don't. She was, at the time, talking about supporting our local synagogue; but it works for Borders, as well. I always just assumed Borders would be around when I needed them. But I haven't bought a book from Borders in months; in fact, I haven't bought a "real" book for myself for quite a while. I've been buying for my Kindle. My kids have been buying "real" books, but through Amazon, where it's cheaper.

Even yesterday, while standing in line to pay at Borders, I overheard a woman gasp at the length of the line and murmur under her breath, "fuck it, I'll buy my stuff at Target."

Borders failed because it could not find its place in today's market, in today's world. Like Blockbuster's crumpling under the weight of Netflix, Borders could not compete with the lure of cheaper prices and the ease of buying from home. People like to be social, but from the privacy of their own homes. We like to browse before buying, but don't mind forgoing the experience of seeing the items for ourselves, instead trusting pictures and descriptions, if it means we can browse in our pajamas at whatever time of night we want from the privacy of our own computer screens.

I don't need Borders anymore to buy my erotica. I can buy from a much larger, richer selection online, where my selections will probably be cheaper, too.
The truth is, I will grieve Borders' passing...but I have already moved on. I think the rest of Borders' customers have, too.

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