Yesterday, on my way to get groceries, my foot involuntarily stepped on the brakes as I passed our local Borders bookstore and saw the ugly yellow sign draped atop the entrance: Store Closing. I mentioned this to my mother who told me that the Borders near my parent's home, where I worked as a struggling college student, is also closing its doors. I knew Borders was struggling, but had no idea how bad it was- that they filed for bankruptcy and are now closing 200 stores.
Agents and publishers have long urged us to not forget about brick and mortar stores- but with the advent of online shopping and e-readers, its been clear for a while that bookstores are being affected. While I do sometimes purchase a book from a brick-n-mortar bookstore, when I'm not getting my books from the library, most of my literary purchases? They're on-line. It's just cheaper. A lot cheaper. Clearly, I wasn't the only one thinking this way as the mass closings make clear but now, with the announcement of these closings, I can't help but wonder: Should I have paid $5-7 more for a book to support the chain? As a member of a single-income household, the honest answer is no. Not really. That's money for my kid's future. Dinner. Shoes.
So the sadness mixed with guilt has no easy answer for me. I wish I could have bought more books, drank more coffee and done my part to keep my local Borders in business because it fills me with sadness- the book signings that won't happen, the emptying stands once filled with books you could touch and rifle through and the end of Tuesday story time that my son loved attending and which lent a sense of community in an increasingly isolated world.
Border's bankruptcy is the beginning of the end of something huge- so big in fact, that as a writer, I'm fairly certain I don't understand its full scope, which is exactly why, regardless of my justifications- the closings make me feel guilty for what I could have done and what is now, at least for my local Borders, much ado much too late.