Monday, July 25, 2011

Final Trip to Borders

I nearly perished at the liquidation sale at Borders yesterday.  Okay, that's an overstatement, but it was way more strenuous than I thought it would be.  It was 89 degrees outside and the air conditioning was off inside the store, presumably because Borders doesn't want to pay the money.  It was crowded, hot, and my quick look around turned into a two hour wander through nearly every section. (Have to say though, I wore my TOMS and my feet didn't bother me at all.  Water would've been an excellent idea, as two hours in a hot building without hydrating is not smart, but I had no idea I would be there that long.)

With the closing of Borders we are down to one bookstore in this fair capital city. I've been in the Borders, as well as the independent bookstore downtown that carries primarily used books (although they do have an option to buy new books through them online) once.  Thanks to my three years with an independent bookstore forty-five minutes from here I tend to do my book shopping there. And not only because if I work a few hours I receive a bit of store credit (which will soon come to an end with the birth of this babe) but because it's a friendly place with good staff and I think it's important to contribute to the small stores.

I bought a few books yesterday, although the deals weren't fabulous, and flexed my bookseller muscles.  I miss selling books, a lot.  I was in the children's section, hunting for books for Bennett, when the woman next to me sighed.  "I can't find what I'm looking for."

"What are you looking for?" I asked.  It was an automatic response, couldn't have stopped it had I tried.

"The 'S' authors, the lady up front told me to look in the authors that start with 'S.'

"That's over there," I pointed behind me.

"Thanks," she shifted over a few shelves and continued looking.

After a few minutes I looked up and asked, "Any luck?"

She sighed, "No."

"What are you looking for?"

"This book about a naughty boy.  My grandson just loves it."

"Oh! No David by David Shannon.  That's an excellent one."

"Thank you!  Like I said my grandson just loves it.  I can't find it here, but I am going to write that down so I can get it somewhere else."

It was a You've Got Mail moment, minus the tears.

Sigh.  I have this great (seemingly useless) ability to remember a slew of book titles and authors.  I fear I will someday be an old lady who stands in libraries and bookstores directing people to books even if they don't want help.

Salem has lost a few good bookstores over the years.  This city seems to have a hard time supporting them even though it is a college town, has a population of over 154,000 and, as mentioned above, is Oregon's capital.  I always hate to see a bookstore fail, even a non-independent one like Borders because it means less access to books. How people, and especially children, encounter books doesn't matter as long as it happens and with the closing of Borders one more opportunity has been lost.  Thankfully we have a wonderful library here with strong programs, but I wish there was a good bookstore too.  And the loss of jobs here, as well as the overall loss of jobs for Borders employees, is devastating too.

Borders closing doesn't mean all access to books has been lost.  There's always Amazon, of course, and Costco too, but what a bricks and mortar bookstore provides is so far beyond that: community, a place to browse, learn, discover, and an opportunity to introduce kids to books and the magic they provide.  We moved here three years ago and while I've come to love this city I initially disliked I wish it hosted a strong, healthy bookstore.

1 comment:

  1. I have those moments in bookstores, too. I think once you work in one, you find yourself doing this sort of thing before you can even think about it. It's also why I get really cranky with bad service, I think.

    I hope your city has a thriving public library. Not the same as a bookstore, but the community aspects are (or should be!) there, too.

    Also hoping you were able to cool off and hydrate once the trip was done!


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