Well, in a time period of little less than a year, three of the six brick-and-mortar bookstores in the Raleigh area will have closed. Two are already gone, and the third closing is about to get underway. The recent announcement from Borders sealed the fate of the lone big-box competitor to Barnes & Noble in this area. Now we have three Barnes & Nobles to compete against one another.
I’ll be honest: I haven’t read many articles about the final nail in the Borders coffin. I’m not the least bit surprised by the news because I figured this would happen when they first announced their bankruptcy. If you went into a Borders after that initial bankruptcy announcement, you wouldn’t be surprised either. I was practically tackled by employees and forced to buy a Borders Rewards membership the one time I went to the remaining store in Raleigh. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not blaming the employees. If we have to blame someone, let’s blame the bobbleheads calling the shots who ran the company into the ground.
This isn’t a time to mourn the death of a large retailer that seemed more focused on selling trinkets and other useless items rather than staying at the forefront of the bookselling industry. Yes, I do have to hand it to Borders, at least they had a “Horror” section. But I still couldn’t find the books that I really wanted to read. Instead, I found shelves full of the same few titles. If we’re going to mourn, we should mourn for all those employees who are now thrust into unemployment in this difficult economic period.
As readers, let us instead be excited about the time we are currently in the midst of. We can be hopeful that small, independent bookstores will rise from the ashes left from the demise of the big boys. The e-reader “revolution” allows authors at least a chance to find an audience, where a bookselling industry dominated by the big retailers was gatekeeper of what was put in front of people. I, as a reader, am more excited about this time than any other before. Then again, maybe I’m just strange.