A number of months ago the only Books-A-Million in Raleigh, NC closed. It was a rather sudden thing and occurred without much fanfare. Today signaled the demise of yet another of the big booksellers here in Raleigh, as one of the two Borders here started its closing sale today. Unlike the BAM closing, there was much fanfare surrounding this closing.
I stopped by there earlier today to take a look around and see what sort of sale they were having. I was amazed to see the crowd that was there and the lines for checkout. I literally have never seen that many people in a bookstore at one time. And the most surprising thing to me was the sale wasn’t really that good; at only twenty percent off, you could have saved more with the coupons Borders sent to Rewards members or find the books you wanted cheaper online.
When I was at the store today, I didn’t buy a single book for myself. It didn’t make sense to me when I could find what I wanted elsewhere for cheaper. Besides, I’d done my part to help the big chain bookstores—just ask my wife. The biggest thing I learned by stopping by the closing sale today was how much I’ve changed over the last year. It used to be nothing for me to go on a book-buying spree and drop $40 or $50 at a time. I used to love to go to the stores and browse the shelves and spend time there to relax. But when I was standing in Borders today, the only sorrow I felt was for the employees losing their jobs; I had no pangs of sorrow about the fact that the store itself is closing. I no longer have an attachment to the physical stores themselves; heck, I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to one in the last few months.
I’ve seen comments out there tonight that folks regretted buying an e-reader and should have supported their local bookstore more. But you know what? I don’t regret buying a Kindle. Not for one second. Why should I? I didn’t regret getting a CD player or Blu-Ray player when they came along. What’s so different about this?
Bottom line is times are changing. They seem to be changing faster than I expected them to, but I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. Sure, you are going to have folks that are nostalgic and are upset that they’re losing an outlet to buy paper books. But the fate of Borders is the same fate of corporations that fail to adapt to change and are content to sit on their laurels. They won’t survive. They can’t survive. It’s just not possible. If you’re trying to execute a business model that people don’t want, you won’t be in business long.
I think I’ve said about enough on this topic for one night. I think I’m going to go browse some titles for my Kindle now.