2011 Flashback: Where Have All the Bookstores Gone???

borders-going-out-of-business

One of the most enduring memories I had of 2011 was the closing of the Borders bookstore chain. My local Borders in Greensboro, N.C., officially closed in April. However, I had seen the proverbial writing on the wall for some time. In 2010, the Waldenbooks (a subsidiary of Borders) store in the Four Seasons Town Centre, Greensboro’s major mall, closed its doors. I should’ve known that the worst was yet to come.

For as long as I could remember, Waldenbooks was the first store I always stepped into whenever I was at the mall. As a child, I enjoyed browsing through the wrestling magazines and Sonic the Hedgehog comic books. As a teen and young adult, I found myself entrenched in the manga (Japanese comics) section. Most people come to mall to buy clothes and socialize; I came to read. Today, it has been replaced with fashion accessory store for young girls.

The two major bookstores in Greensboro had always been Borders and Barnes & Noble. B&N was the larger, extravagant store. It’s located in Friendly Center, one of the nicest shopping centers in Greensboro, and is surrounded by major retailers like Banana Republic, Old Navy and Macy’s. I don’t travel to B&N that much because it’s so far from where I live. Borders was closer and had more of a relaxed atmosphere.

I began to regularly shop at Borders during my final year in college. Whenever I got bored in my dorm, I would go to hang out at Borders, even if I didn’t have the money to buy anything. Of course I ended up purchasing a number of books from there as well, even becoming a member of their rewards program. Borders had become my home away from home.

So imagine how much of a scare it was in February when I discovered that the Greensboro location would be closing  it doors. They marked down the prices drastically. It even got to the point where they began selling the store’s furniture! I went there every week to buy whatever I could get my hands on until they closed in April. The craziest thing is that I was at the store with my girlfriend about a week before the announcement was made and the store appeared to be doing very healthy business.

The following is an excerpt from an e-mail sent by former Borders CEO Mike Edwards:

“For decades, Borders stores have been the destinations within communities– places where people have sought knowledge, entertainment and enlightenment and connected with others who share their passions. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to lead Borders and play a role in the true and noble cause of expanding access to books and promoting the joy of reading. As a company, we cannot thank you enough for giving us the opportunity to serve you and the millions of other customers who have shopped our stores over the years. My sincerest hope is that we remain in the hearts of readers for years to come.”

The final Borders store closed in July. More bad news for the Greensboro bookstore scene came when the Books-A-Million store in the Jefferson Village shopping center closed later in the year. It seems as if the major bookstore chains have suffered from an inability to adapt to the ever-changing technological landscape. With the rise in the popularity of e-readers it could become a very real possibility that physical bookstores may become a thing of the past. It sucks for those like me who prefer the feel of a physical book in their hands as opposed to reading one on a mobile device.

The following is a partial list of the books I bought from Borders over the past year. This doesn’t include the numerous magazines and  graphic novels I purchased as well:

Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling

Prayer: Your Own Letter to God

Survival Japanese: How to Communicate Without Fuss or Fear–Instantly

How To Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC

Dare to Believe

Happiness

English Grammar Workbook for Dummies

Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps

A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex

The Daily Book of Positive Quotations

Drawing Heat the Hard Way: How Wrestling Really Works

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