September 18, 2011

Death of a Bookstore: RIP Borders

I know that we, as writers, are watching the unfolding changes that are happening in the world of books and publishing pretty closely. First the struggling indy bookstores, and then the fall of some of the bigger conglomerates. What's next!

I fervently hope that we never see the total demise of bookstores, lost to the world forever due to economy and technology. One of my very favorite things to do in the world is to visit bookstores. Any bookstore. As long as there are books, I’m there. The nearest bookstores to me are an hour away, so I really appreciate them when I can get there.

But anymore when I go, there are always changes. It started with outfacing books which showed the covers. A twofold strategy, I think. One, to fill up the empty spaces on the shelves, and two, the cover has to be a great marketing tool. I’m always drawn to covers.

On my recent visit to Barnes & Noble, there were major changes going on.

First, they were in the midst of a major rearrangement. The teenage section, which was tucked away at the back of the store, was being moved to the middle of the store, next to fantasy and science fiction. And the teenage section was suddenly HUGE! I was quite surprised. I thought that with new technology, especially with teens, that they’d be buying online ebooks. So then I wondered, who’s buying all these books, then?! And my answer was, people like me. I am an older adult (can’t bring myself to say middle-aged, but…) who reads young adult fiction. It is a huge escape from the everyday reality that we live.

My point is that the teenage section, (read: YA) was easily the biggest section in the whole store, which means a lot of people are reading this genre, and not just teens. That’s excellent news for us YA writers. Woo Hoo! At least 75% of the blogs I follow are YA writers. I think we're in the right genre at the right time.

Second, although they’ve always had a games/puzzle section, they’ve expanded on that. In addition to that, they were making a special section for kid’s games and puzzles. Also, they must now have a relationship with Lego, because they had a whole section of new Lego shelving going up.

Third, the educational section seemed to be increasing. Now there are several aisles of teaching supplies for K-8.

But what section do you think was smaller? Reference. I don’t know why, but my guess is that they are expensive, they aren’t good sellers, and you can usually find what you want online for free.

Anyway, with $50 gift card in hand, I picked out 3 books and carried them around the store for an hour. Then I put two back, ever mindful of the economy and how much I was spending. I ended up with a YA fiction novel by Kiersten White, called Paranormalcy. Kiersten is awesome! You can check out her blog at Kiersten Writes .

When I walked out of Barnes & Noble, I looked up to see Borders across the street, with a big banner that said, Final Days. I knew they were selling everything and going out of business so I decided to go over and see what they had.

When I went in, it had been pretty well picked over, but with everything 80-90% off, there were still quite a few people shopping for a bargain.

The first thing I noticed was that people were rushing around with huge stacks of books. They looked like looters during a blackout. Others, like me, quietly perused the remaining titles on the shelves, respectfully, like reading headstones in a cemetery.

It was the final four days of their existence, and somehow, what was happening just didn’t seem right.

Even so, I bought $30 worth of books for $6, put my dark glasses back on, looked over my shoulder surreptitiously and slunk to my car like a thief in the night with my loot.

It was very sad, especially with B&N across the street, busy with all their bustling, new changes. Or maybe I should say "scrambling"?


Stacy S. Jensen said...

Hmm. Lost my comment. I totally scavenged on several trips to our Colorado Springs store. Sadly, the first two trips, I could still buy books cheaper at Amazon. I found several Christmas presents. I love giving books as gifts.

Lady Gwen said...

@Stacy, you're right - by the time Borders got cheap enough, they were pretty well picked over.

Cortney said...

There aren't any Borders were I live, so I had no idea it was closing until I've read it on people's blogs! I love Barnes and Noble, but then, it is the only bookstore remotely close (and even then it's 40 minutes away!). Great pick, I just finished Paranormalcy and I loved it.

Lady Gwen said...

@Cortney, I was never really a Border's shopper. I always got B&N gift cards for xmas, birthday, mother's day, etc., and so shopped there. But I mourn Borders and the whole situation, just the same. I'm loving Paranormalcy, too - exciting but not realistic enough to be stressful, LOL!

Ms Saba (aka Teacher007.5) said...

I really feel bad when bookstores have to close. I hope B& N never goes out of business where I work. I spend just about every other lunch hour reading and browsing the shelves.

Lady Gwen said...

Ms. Saba, I've spent many lunch-times browsing B&N - and my husband and I used to go every Friday night (after happy hour:)) for coffee at Starbucks and a browse through B&N. I hope they make it!

Deana said...

It just makes me sad to hear news like this. I am like you a bookstore a day keeps the doctor away...or something like that. If they keep taking the bookstores from us I don't know what I'll do. I just can't get into the ebooks the way others seem to. Maybe one day I won't have a choice. Sad, but cool about the YA section! And your great deals:)

Crystal Collier said...

Oh man! How did I NOT know about this? Grr. I would have taken my Christmas fund--and probably spent every penny. *sigh*

Nadja Notariani said...

Lady Gwen, you've hit a tender spot in readers of all genres. Bookstores. I hope to never see them all close either...there's something so comforting and relaxing about flipping through real pages in excited query of a new title or author while sipping a cup of steaming coffee...sigh. I have to travel at least 30 min now to get to a bookstore. Hmmm....gets me to thinking.... ~ Nadja

Lady Gwen said...

Deana, everyone feels the same! There will have to be SOME surviving bookstores!

Crystal, they had some awesome deals - my daughter went and bought a bunch of cookbooks!

Nadja, I absolutely love "real" books, too. Electronic books are just not as cozy!