The last thing I read before heading to Borders this afternoon was an email update on today’s bankruptcy news. The headline: a bid to buy Borders has fallen through, and it looks like liquidation is inevitable. Perhaps I’m imagining things, but I couldn’t help noting that the handwritten sign about how the landlord “rocks,” and how rumors of our Borders’ demise are exaggerated, isn’t on the window any more.
Last Saturday, my wife and I stayed at a renovated, sixties style motel in the Berkshires on our way back from a lovely visit with Ruth Stuntz. There wasn’t a Borders anywhere in sight. When I learned that the new owners were English and had lived in London for many years, I immediately mentioned that I’d worked for six months at Waterstone’s Booksellers after I graduated from college in the 1980s. “Waterstone’s has really fallen on hard times,” the husband said. I was stunned. I remember Waterstone’s as expanding madly, and as the most successful bookstore around. Only later did it dawn on me that Borders was expanding madly in that era, too, and that Waterstone’s is precisely the same kind of semi-anonymous but high quality bookstore.
The commenters on my last Borders post who pointed out that its business model simply isn’t viable in an era of Kindles and Amazon.com were of course exactly right. But I’m just self-pitying enough to sigh a little when another product or place that I find irresistible disappears.
It all seems to have started with Edy’s Vanilla Avalanche ice cream.