Booking a Loss

Borders appears to a goner, moving towards liquidation. Supposedly the sales will start Friday.

This is sad news–not because Borders was anything all that spectacular in terms of selection or price, but because it was there. It was a place to browse, to discover, to open a book and read a little. You can’t do that with an online store; you can’t do that with ebooks. What’s worse is that, had this happened 20 years ago, the indies would have picked up the business… but many of the indies are gone as well.

Let’s look at where I live, the northern part of the San Fernando Valley. Yes, there are used book stores around, and a number of small specialized places. But there is no general interest bookstores other than the Borders at the Northridge Mall (anchoring the northern end—it’s been there since after the 1994 earthquake), and perhaps the CSUN Bookstore, which has limited hours. Beyond that, you have to go to Woodland Hills (Prominade Mall) or Sherman Oaks (Bookstar); the B&N in Encino died six months ago. There are no good indies in the valley; you need to go to Pasadena and Vromans or down to Los Feliz to find one these days. So the closing of the Northridge Borders will be a sad thing.

I sincerely hope that B&N will have the capital to pick up some of the profitable Borders locations, or that some other book retailer will go after those locations. We don’t need more Walgreens or CVSs.