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Borders Books R.I.P.
5 years ago
| Surprise Me

By David Gewirtz


Wow, we’ve kind of known this was coming, but it’s still sad to see one of the great bookstore chains shut its doors forever. It’s even sadder for the 11,000 employees about to lose their jobs.

I don’t know about you, but I have lots of great memories of the times I spent in Borders, especially in the coffee shop, meeting people, dating people, participating in local store events, even giving talks to other writers.


Borders, like the big Barnes & Noble stores, was notable in the 1990s for, essentially, putting many of the smaller boutique, mom and pop bookstores out of business. I was complicit in this behavior, for as soon as a Borders and Barnes & Noble came into the Princeton area (where I was living at the time), they became my regular haunts. Borders and Barnes & Noble had more books, more magazines, more media, and — to me, most important — they had coffee.


I can’t count the number of articles I wrote on my Palm handheld and portable keyboard in the local Borders, or the number of happy Saturdays spent browsing among the stacks. I never seemed to be able to get out of there for less than $80, for there was always something delightful or interesting I just had to read.


Back then, in Princeton, the Borders was right next to another future dinosaur corpse: CompUSA. On many of those Saturdays, I’d drive down, wander through the CompUSA, happily complaining about whatever annoyed me about CompUSA on that day, and then having a pleasant caffeinated beverage right next door at the Borders. Sadly, both stores are now closed — and even more sad, the buddy I’d often meet down there has also long since passed away. Good times. Good times, indeed.


But the Internet has eclipsed all that. As I discussed yesterday, I now rely on the convenience of Amazon Prime. I’ve traded in most of my printed editions for digital Kindle books, and the days of the the great community bookstores are clearly behind us.


Borders, of course, is not without blame. They tried to keep up, after denying the power of the Internet for so long. But, like today’s newspapers, they were so tied to old business models that those models eventually pulled them underwater.

So, for all those great times, I thank Borders. But, ultimately, Borders RIP.

5 years ago

Sad, indeed.  Hopefully B&N sticks around.  I love the atmosphere in those stores, the peaceful muzak, the time spent wandering throught the shelves, perusing anything that caught the eye. 

5 years ago

The internet is a double edged sword at times..for all the good things it provides,it has meant trouble for retailers like Borders and Barnes & Noble..

5 years ago

Well, I won't miss Borders - never met one I liked.  But, I love Barnes & Noble and I'd be very very sad and disappointed if we lost it.  I shop their stores as often as I can (the closest one is 15 miles away).  


Like Shane, I love the atmosphere there too, love their merchandising, they have GREAT deals on wonderful books you won't find online, and of course we always visit the coffee bar for a cappuccino and some tasty pastry while we're there.

5 years ago

And their staff is always so 'happy' and helpful - and dependable!  If they don't have what you're looking for they'll get it, they'll call you when it's in, and it will be waiting for you behind the check-out when you get there to pick it up. 

5 years ago

It's sad, I love to wander aimlessly around a bookstore.

5 years ago

lol!  Being the card-carrying nerd that I am, I love how they give Star Wars its own section!  So awesome!  Of course, other than Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy, most of the Post-Return of the Jedi novels are a waste, IMO.  They friggin' killed Chewbacca!  That's totally against my religion!  ANd they killed Luke's wife, the most popular non-movie character of all!   Fools. 


Ahem!  Please excuse my fanatical outburst.  There appears to be a disturbance in my force, on that subject. 

5 years ago


5 years ago

WFT?  They killed CHEWIE???  

5 years ago

Yeah, he "sacrifeced himself apparently to save Han and the Solo children.  (THey have 3, and by the end, only one lives.)  Stupid stuff. 

5 years ago

Oh, I'm so glad I didn't read it ... I'd be so pissed I wasted all that time just to be hate it


5 years ago

Me too! It would have been like killing off Sam in THE LORD OF THE RINGS!

5 years ago

Yep.  However, I will personally vouch for Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy, which were the first EVER post-Return Of The Jedi novels written, and they were VERY well done, with no killing off of key characters.  Not even Wedge! 


 They take place about 8 years after Episode VI, and were so popular, that fans writing in to Lucasfilm's poll of favorite characters even voted Zahn's invented character "Mara Jade" in at #20, the only non-movie character to even make the list. 

The main villain of the trilogy is different than the Vader/Emporer dynamic, but very effective, and different in a way that gives the saga new life, and a legitimate but not copy-cat threat.  It's not just a re-hash of what the movies were.  So, I for one highly recommend them, in fact, I consider them to be Episodes 7 - 9.



If you want, check em out: 


Star Wars:  Heir To The Empire

                Dark Force Rising

                The Last Command


That's their chronological order.  Very good books!

5 years ago


I don't get it. What the hell is the difference between Borders and Barnes & Noble? They are both Walmart-like book super-stores that put regular book stores out of business years ago.


<< ... I won't miss Borders - never met one I liked.  But, I love Barnes & Noble ... >>


WTF? That's one of the most insane statements I've ever seen.


That's like saying "I won't miss McDonald's - never met one I liked.  But, I love Burger King ... "




5 years ago

Thanks for the recommend. My son and I loved reading and watching Star Wars. We don't like main characters being killed off and like unusual villains.


So Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy sounds like our sort of read! We've put it on our list of 'must reads'.


Thanks for sharing.


PS. We also like book-shops, could spend ours reading and browsing and used to ADORE Borders while living in the UK.

5 years ago

Yes, Shane, thanks for the heads up. That trilogy sounds like a great birthday gift idea idea for my sons, Star wars fans since the beginning.

5 years ago

No problem, Alexandra, Katii, always happy to help out fellow Jedi.  (Yeah, I'm pretty marked out on it, sue me!)  lol 



Christian, that's actually pretty accurate, if you think about it:  I can certainly taste the difference between McDs and BK.  BKs got better burgers, McDs has better fries, and it's really all eye of the beholder, ya know? 


Borders I don't remember much of, I always had B&N closer, so, I only went to Borders a few times.  Can't remember what exactly it was like.  Down here, we have "Books-A-Million", which is the same deal, only WAY less organized.  It's a mess of a store, hard to find what you want, and the whole thing is just not too easy on the eyes.  Doesn't create the same environment or atmosphere that B&N does.  So, company to company, there's always differences, and that's where people will find their preferences.



5 years ago


"I don't get it. What the hell is the difference between Borders and Barnes & Noble? They are both Walmart-like book super-stores that put regular book stores out of business years ago."-Christian

That is true to some extent however I have seen Independent bookstores continue and even thrive in this economic climate..One example is Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver

"Niche" bookstores have also managed..

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