Wednesday, July 20, 2011

One Chapter's End

I can’t believe Borders is going under.

I’m a cheerleader for The Shop Around the Corner et. al., sure, but Borders was somehow so special to me growing up it’s sad to see it go.

I haven’t been in its aisles in a good oh, 5 years, which speaks to exactly why it’s bankrupt (not because I spent THAT much money, but because I’m sure there are others like me, seduced by kindles or libraries), but I feel as though my favorite merry-go-round is getting demolished to make way for a drive-thru liquor store.

It’s perverse.

I remember in the early 90s when they first started to come on the scene. A part of me at that time recognized that having such an expansive inventory and attention to comfort was revolutionary as far as book stores went, mostly because my mother would constantly say in italics, they have couches there.

Couches! In a store! It’s as though they’re asking you to browse instead of chasing waylaid shoppers out with a broom.

My first Borders was one shopping plaza away from where I took dance lessons. Often in an effort to have me actually engage in physical activity and attend said lessons my mom would offer a post-ballet trip to the book store. The book store that has two floors. Boom. Nerd-dom was born.

Climbing the stairs to the childrens’s section and sitting on bean bags paging through the latest Babysitter’s Little Sister book was my slide down the birth canal and prompt nesting in the afterbirth.

Yeah… that was a weird metaphor.

Beyond demonstrating the finer aspects of bribery, my mom’s offers to take me to the bookstore were one of the few bonding experiences that didn’t end in tears, whining and door slamming. And then whatever I would do.

We would part ways, browse to our hearts content, pick a few titles and ultimately meet each other at a couch in front of a fireplace. A fireplace in a bookstore.

The only other bookstore I’d seen a fireplace in was the conservative Christian “Loaves and Fishes” branch that would in future years use the feature to make Harry Potter conflagrations.

Borders wouldn’t do that.

This was also one of the only venues that I could bring myself to ask for something. Most kids want all kinds of crap that’s presented at their eye level and is bright, shiny and clearly going to change their lives forever.

I really wasn’t like that. I had this sort of guilt thing with consumerism and spending money and worrying that the My Little Pony I fought for was going to render us homeless. (It totally wasn’t. We’ve been upper middle class my whole life.)(I was just weird.)

I rarely asked for things. And I nearly never outright asked for things.

But at Borders, when I’d sigh and say, “I wish books were free…” and slyly look out the corner of my eye, my mom unfailingly asked “Why, were you wanting something? Go ahead. It’s a book.”

She never said no to a book.

I have since adopted this philosophy. And as such have a ton of books that I haven’t yet read, but that I needed to have at some moment in time.

I try not to ever pay full price for a book and never buy a hard cover, the only exceptions being new Jennifer Weiner novels and the occasional YA book that peaks my interest. I mostly go to used book stores, the library or a great new place in Denver called 2 Buck Books. Which yes, is technically a used book store, but you don’t understand. It's so much more.

I am also one of those people who will go to Borders/Barnes&Noble, what have you, find titles that are interesting, and ultimately go home and order them from Amazon or put them on hold at the library. So. In many ways, my generation's habits are at fault for kicking this conglomerate while it was down.

Well. Goodbye, Borders. I’m sorry I grew up to be so cheap.

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