As you may recall, about two months ago I did a vlog on the state of the Borders bankruptcy. When I did the vlog, it was shortly after the Borders location in Philadelphia closed, which meant I no longer had a Borders store to shop at. However, there was still one store I could shop at, the one in Eatontown back home in New Jersey. But that’s no longer the case either. Throughout this past week, the reports kept coming in that it looked like Borders had accepted the bid to liquidate, replacing the previous one that would’ve bought them out and keep some stores open. I kept hopping the buy out bid would return, but as it is obvious now, that didn’t happen. Sure enough, at exactly midnight on July 22nd, the official word went out in the form of an email from the CEO of Borders. Borders was officially going out of business.
Honestly, by the time it was official, I wasn’t surprised any more. When Borders first announced they were filing for Chapter 11, that was a surprise. A very hard-hitting one. While I wish I could say I shopped at Borders for the 40 years they were in business, I cannot. I can only say I shopped with them for 18 years, or in other words, my entire life. Borders was a store I loved and still do even now at the end. While I do spend the majority of my time in front of a computer, books are perhaps the one thing I do not order online. While that is now starting to very slowly change with ebooks, nothing – and I mean absolutely nothing – in the world will ever replace the experience of walking into a book store, browsing the shelves, pulling a few books down, and giving them the “test read” over a cup of coffee. A library may come close with the ability to browse shelves and take a book to read, but there are no libraries near me with a café nor any that I would consider a place to hang out with friends at. Libraries are just too quiet. Borders, on the other hand, always had just the right level of noise, quiet enough that you could still hear yourself think, but loud enough that you were reminded other people were all around.
The other problem with a library is what library is in a mall? Whenever I’d go shopping at a mall with my mom, it usually had a Borders. It may not have been a large one, but it was somewhere to go while she “did her thing”. When I heard that the Freehold mall, my favorite mall, would be getting a Borders – a two-story one at that – I threw a party. Literally. The Eatontown store was and still is as it closes a very nice store, but I loved finally being able to say my local (OK, so Freehold is a 15 minute drive, sue me :P) Borders was more than one floor. Every Borders store I’ve been in was unique. I loved having to find where things were located. It was an adventure. And it was one that changed. As time went on, I watched the Borders in Eatontown change throughout the years. First the café became a Seattle’s Best, who, if you don’t know, is owned by Starbucks, then the CD selection slowly got smaller as iTunes began replacing CDs, then a manga section popped up right in the middle of the store, just in time for for when I started to read manga (and reading for the first time in two whole years for fun), and finally the customer service desk (yes, it was really a desk) becoming Area E, where eReaders were on display. Now it’s transforming again, for the last time.
When I went to Borders yesterday, the first thing I noticed was the café was closed. And I mean completely closed. The Seattle’s Best sign was gone as was all the coffee makers. The tables are still there for now, but that corner of the store is no longer nearly as lively nor welcoming as it once was. As for the rest of the store, the shelves haven’t been picked clean yet, but it was the most crowded I’ve seen it in a very long time. The books that once were stored on the top of shelves as part storage space part decoration are already gone. The computers are still there, but the whole system was down as one would expect. The mood overall was bittersweet. It was clear that it was the end of an era, but at the same time, everyone was stocking up on books, taking advantage of the almost Amazon priced books. I don’t know if I’ll get the chance to go back, but I’d certainly love to. It would be nice to buy an entire shelf of manga again, like when Freehold closed.
I’ll miss you Borders. I was really hoping you’d get through Bankruptcy, but the signs were there since it was first announced that you were slowly bleeding. When I saw Freehold was going to be one of the first stores to go, I knew you were in trouble. I like to think that every end is a beginning, but not every beginning is an end. You made some big mistakes that likely led up to the situation today, but I know other book stores are in trouble too. It’s the end of the Borders era and I think the beginning of the end of the book store era too. I loved you Borders, and I still do. Thank you for being there for 18 years. Rest in peace.