It was a sad event, Tuesday evening, to walk around what was left of my favorite Borders Bookstore, and to offer home and shelter for a few needy books as the once teeming shelves thinned out.
- Orphaned tomes, sitting up expectantly each time someone stopped by to peruse their aisle.
- Obscure novels, long overlooked, squinting in the unfamiliar light as attrition worked them to the front.
- The hopes and dreams of countless authors, "reduced dramatically" for quick sale.
- Passionate vision at pennies on the dollar; the life's-work of great minds teetering on the edge of tomorrow's trash; the product of years of research and imagination and sweat and tears and belief available for the price of Big-Mac and Fries.
- Aspirations gathering dust and subject to clearance, sale, going out of business.
- An artist's magnum opus, passed over even at "40% off". Left unread as the final indignity.
The wonderful coffee shop? closed. All the comfy reading chairs? gone. Glorious reading posters? torn from the walls. Computer book-search stations? Disconnected and removed. Several days' debris littered the floors. It didn't look like anyone was going to clean up.
I asked the cashier about the album playing over the P.A. because I wanted to buy the CD. But she said the music was long gone, and it was just a random selection from a personal iPod belonging to one of the staff.
The Brandon Borders was built just a few years ago, one of the anchor buildings for the new town center that never was. It's the first thing tens of thousands of drivers see as they come off the double-decker expressway. "Welcome to Brandon!" Ooops, maybe that's not such a helpful advertisement for the state of business around here.
To be honest I think it's people like me who closed Borders down. I shopped there, and I really enjoyed it. But I'm not sure I ever spent enough to cover what I really enjoyed about the experience.
- I loved walking around the stacks of books, picking them up, reading the jacket, flipping through the pages. The price? Totally free.
- I enjoyed getting good coffee (not free) and settling into an overstuffed "bookstore chair" to read at leisure (free).
- I loved the ambiance (free), the sheer gravitational pull of so many books (free), the expert advice of the help desk (free) and the $75 National Geographic photo books I could scan (free) and return to the shelf.
We'd buy gift cards there for the nieces and nephews. And it was my favorite venue to shop for "artsy" greetings cards. It was a great place to hang out at the tail end of an evening date with Rebekah.
But, let's face it. I purchase a lot of books on my Kindle. I spend more at the Amazon bookstore than in a "Big Box' outfit like Borders. And, besides:
- I make awesome coffee at home...
- We have nicer chairs...
- I can select my own music to read by...
- Plus there's the Labradoodle at my feet...
Sometimes I dream about a coffeehouse/bookstore in the lobby of our church. We could have state-of-the-art espresso machines, more than enough comfy chairs, a few new books on hand, the church library right there, great music, some small tables for conversation... Open two or three nights a week for reading, conversation, coffee and general hanging out.
Fact is, in the long run, we tend to get what we're willing to pay for.