Au Revoir Borders

I’m so sad about Borders closing.

But I’m also the reason Borders is closing.


I’ve visited bookstores regularly the last few years, even as the digital age dawned and my Kindle filled up. I’ve made it a point to buy books when I visit bookstores.

But last month when I visited Borders (this was before their liquidation announcement) I spotted two books I absolutely HAD to have right away. I was torn. I really wanted them on my Kindle. Didn’t want to carry around the hardcovers. So I walked out of Borders and sat on a bench, and right then and there, ordered two books via the Kindle app on my phone.

And then I froze, realizing…


If Borders doesn’t survive, I thought, this will be on my head. I’m to blame here.

And not a week later, it was all over for Borders.

I love bookstores and real, paper-and-ink books. And yet, and yet… I love reading electronically too! I want both! I want to read electronically and still have the luxury of hanging out in bookstores! Why, oh why can’t I have both???

Thank you, Borders, for being there. Thank you for being huge and having almost every book I could ever want. Thank you for being in malls so I’d have a place to hang out while my kids shopped. Thanks for the café and for those comfortable chairs where I’ve spent so many afternoons.

I’m sorry for my love of all things digital. Sorry I started splitting my time between you and my Kindle.

I will miss you.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  5. Monica Watkins on August 17, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    I love this post. Although I haven’t fully moved over to digital book buying, I feel destined to succumb to the pressure. I was a HUGE Borders fan. They were my favorite. I’m challenged by the thought of trying to cozy up to a different book store chain. I think I’m still secretly hoping they’ll somehow reinvent themselves and return. A girl can dream, can’t she?! 🙂

  6. ed cyzewski on August 16, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    Sterile though Barnes and Noble may feel, that’s actually one of the reasons why I bought a Nook. Even a big box store feels better than just sitting at my desk browsing books on Amazon.

    I sure hope independent bookstores can get a share of the E-Book sales or they’re going to be in big trouble.

  7. Mercey V on August 15, 2011 at 2:23 AM

    You have permission to kick me if ever I buy a Kindle. SO NOT interested. I like to savor that space between the two open pages that IS a private world.

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  9. Linda Banche on August 12, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    I loved Borders, too, and will miss it terribly. They had the best selection of romances of any bookstore. Even if I didn’t want a book, I could always find something I liked.

    I kept buying at Borders even as ebooks are surging. I would have kept buying. But my purchases weren’t enough.

    We’ll never see as good a bookstore again. Sniff.

  10. Susanne on August 12, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    I am guilty too. I prefer to read on my Kindle, but oh, I loved to browse the bookstores–especially Borders.

  11. Becky on August 12, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    I’m pretty sure Borders died because their business model/practices wern’t cutting it. They were the only game in town here so I’m sad to see them go too. I have to drive an hour to the nearest B&N…

  12. Rachael on August 12, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    I’ve had a Kobo since Christmas and the only thing I’ve ever read on it are e-galleys. I have a whole list of books that are available as e-books, but I can’t bring myself to buy any of them. Although I certainly haven’t had a problem buying print books. I’m not sure what it is, but I just love print books too much to give them up.

  13. Paul on August 12, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    I am mixed on this one. I am huge proponent of the printed book. Borders, to me, was just too convoluted. I would drive by two Borders stores to go to a Barnes and Noble. It is a shame that another book store is closing, but Borders was the right choice to close compared to B&N.

  14. karen on August 12, 2011 at 2:19 AM

    Just got a chance to read this, this morning. Love it. It’s funny I had updated my blog before I read yours and on mine, I wanted to know what people preferred
    e-books or paperbacks! Talk about deja vu

  15. Rachelle Gardner on August 11, 2011 at 10:35 PM

    Several people have commented that reading on screens makes their eyes hurt. I’m a little surprised that, four years after the debut of the Kindle, most people still don’t understand about e-ink technology and how it replicates reading on PAPER, not reading on a screen.

    When reading on a backlit screen, as on a computer, your eyes are subjected to moving pixels. When reading e-ink as on the Kindle, your eyes think they’re reading on paper. There are no moving pixels.

    I know many people want to be against new digital technology and will come up with any excuse to avoid adopting it! But “the screen hurts my eyes” doesn’t work. Sorry!

  16. Caroline on August 11, 2011 at 9:58 PM

    I once went shopping at a mall with a friend and had to entertain our sons in Borders while she took her daughter to a clothing store. It was an agonizing forty-five minutes. She asked me if I enjoyed the bookstore and I answered, “The very small and shabby bookstore with an extremely limited selection of books and very poor lighting? Um, no.”

    That was my one experience with Borders.

    I prefer real books and I buy most of them from Amazon or Christian Book Distributors. When I have a friend with a new book coming out I will order it from my local independent bookstore to try to throw some business their way and maybe get them to actually carry my friends’ books on the shelf.

    I don’t think a good story trumps the actual reading experience. My eyes are very funny about screen reading, so it wouldn’t matter how good the story was if it was making my eyes hurt.

    Thanks for telling us what the two books you just had to have were. I was curious, too!

  17. Catherine on August 11, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    I feel EXACTLY the same as you do. I want to buy hardcovers from the writers that I love, that I’m loyal to. I don’t care how much money they cost, I will always love the look and feel of a hardcover book in my hand.

    But last week I got a Kindle for my birthday and completely fell in love with it. This is from a girl who told everyone that e-books will never be as big as MP3s because people who like to read want an actual book in their hand. I still think that. Popular authors will always have loyal bibliophiles who will run to the bookstore on release day and get their preordered book.

    E-books are so convenient! I love downloading onto my Kindle in seconds, being able to view samples of the books before I buy, and I think with my Kindle I’ll be more willing to go out on a limb and buy a $5 download from a new author. This is a chance for unprecedented exposure for new authors who are willing to get their name out there so ereader owners will be willing to download and give them a chance. Who wouldn’t at a couple bucks a pop?

    After buying an ereader, I’m even more excited to be a writer. It’s a great time to write!


  18. Teresa on August 11, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    I’m glad it was you and not me since I’ve never shopped there. Whew!

  19. Kel on August 11, 2011 at 7:54 PM

    No e-readers in this house! I know it’s the current trend and *if* I ever get published, I’ll probably be unable to forgo the e-book but I can’t stand them. They’re too fake for me; I have to have a real book in my hands, I NEED to walk into a bookstore and see it and smell it. I read blogs and such, but no e-readers; it’s just never going to happen.

    • Rachelle Gardner on August 11, 2011 at 8:03 PM

      To each her own, and all that. But honestly, Kel, “too fake”? Hmm. Thousands of writers everywhere, whose words are the same whether on paper or digital reader, would probably take issue with that!

      Isn’t it all about a good story?

      And prior to the 15th century invention of the printing press, the vast majority of stories were shared verbally. I imagine there were people saying, “None of those written down stories for me – they’re too fake!”

      Just messing with ya. I’m attached to paper-and-ink books too, but I’m wondering why the delivery method of a story seems to outweigh the story itself for many people.

  20. Janie B on August 11, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    I feel exactly the same way you do, Rachel. I WANT BOTH! I love my Kindle, but sometimes I was the feel of a book. Sad that one has to suffer in order for the other to survive.

  21. Emily Wenstrom on August 11, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    I share in your sentiment…it’s hard to see a book store fail, especially in these times where things seem rather shaky. But, I have a hard time accepting that it’s the fault of ebook readers, or people who shop at other stores, or any consumer action.

    The reality is, Borders failed to keep up. While competitors like Barnes and Noble created ops for web shopping and ordering through their own sites, Borders first partnered with Amazon and forfeited a percentage of their sales. While Barnes and Noble and Amazon created their own e-readers, and then their own ebook formats to go with them, Borders simply didn’t.

    Maybe I’m just trying to justify my own buying habits, but I really don’t think that the question is whether book stores can survive in a digital market. To me the question is who is going to be savvy enough to adapt, and how are they going to do it?

  22. Mamie on August 11, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    The closing of Borders is a wonderful thing. Now we are all encouraged to support our amazing independent bookstores. They are trying their best to stay alive, offering online ordering and e-books, while providing us with amazing author readings, town meetings, local revenue, support for small publishers and as-yet unknown writers. I highly recommend mine, Quail Ridge Books and Music, in Raleigh NC, but I’m sure there’s one in or near almost every town in America. One small step that we can all make is supporting our local businesses who support our local economies. I say RIP, Borders.

  23. joan Cimyotte on August 11, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    It’s not your fault, Rachelle. It’s out with the old, in with the new. Everything is changing rapidly. I prefer a book. This is what Nathan Bransford was talking about a year ago. Book outlets will someday carry an Expresso machine. You order a book and the machine will print it if that’s what you want. I don’t know if that will happen or not. I think it will. Or you just order it and they send it. The downturn in the economy doesn’t help the situation. I go into a bookstore and I see a book I want for $25.00. You’ll see me walking out empty handed. I’d hate to see places like The Tattered Cover go by way of horse and buggy.

  24. Kristin Laughtin on August 11, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    Borders stopped carrying many of the books I wanted, and that’s why I got a Kindle. I do still buy print books from B&N and local stores, but…yeah, so much of my reading moved to my e-reader this year, after I moved and had to cart all my books to my new apartment.

    Although I must say as a future librarian, there is still another place you can spend a lot of time browsing… 😉

  25. Laura W. on August 11, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    My philosophy:

    If it exists only in ebook form, use a Kindle.

    If there’s a paperback/hardcover/solid book form, buy from a bookstore. Plus I like the pretty covers.

  26. Martine on August 11, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    This is exactly how I feel. Thank you for putting it into words.

    I bought my very first Harry Potter at Borders and I’ve spent more hours there than I’m comfortable admitting. But the world is changing and Borders didn’t change with it. I’m sorry to see it go, but I’m not surprised.

    Here’s the thing, though: I don’t think all bookstores will disappear. They’ll just grow smaller. It’ll be like record stores now, or comic book shops. There will be a place for us to go and browse, even if it won’t be as massive or have as great coffee as Borders did.

    And if nothing else, the future for books is still exciting. More people read and people read more books than they used to because of the convenience of the digital market. The death of print might yet come, but it won’t mean the death of books. And that at least is a comfort.

  27. Amy Armstrong on August 11, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    I know! It’s so sad. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has digital book addiction guilt.

  28. Martha Ramirez on August 11, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    I’m really sad too. Ours closed down a few months ago. I did several booksignings and looked frwd to doing more in the future. I’m really bummed they had to close down.

  29. Marni Derr on August 11, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    I also find it sad that bookstores are closing all over. I like my hardcovers, I truly do, just as much as my electronic versions.

    I loved Borders. They had a huge two-story building close to me and I almost want to go put flowers against the doors in loving memory.

    However, the world is ever-changing and business is no exception. I worked in the corporate world for the majority of my career and their resistance to change borders on ridiculous.

    Change and adapt, or fade away. Sad, but true.

  30. Rondi Olson on August 11, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    Rachelle, if you had had an awesome Borders brand e-reader and could have bought and downloaded the books from Borders instead of Amazon, would you have? Of course. You could have supported Borders and had your e-books.

    I don’t think it was people preferring e-books over paper that doomed Borders, it was Borders unwillingness to enter the e-market that killed it. They saw themselves as a traditional bookseller and nothing else and got clobbered.

    Amazon went online in 1995. Barnes & Noble put there store up in 1997. Borders had their own online division in… wait for it… 2008. Yes. 2008.

    Borders failed because of poor management, not because people stopped reading.

    Take note authors and agents, are you moving into the e-world? If not you’ll end up like Borders. Remember, you sell stories and information, not bound paper with print on it.

    Disclaimer: I love my Kindle.

  31. Anna Labno on August 11, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    I love paperbacks. I have bought my kindle a couple months ago, and I don’t like it. But I do order books that are used if I can find them. Why to pay the regular price when a cheap price is available for the same product. So I wouldn’t blame it all on the digital devices. Most avid readers have been buying used books for a long time using different search engines or borrowing books from the library.

  32. Colin Smith on August 11, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    Since the confessional is open… I’m a double-offender. Not only do I purchase from Amazon, but I look for the book really cheap via Amazon Marketplace–so not only does the brick-and-mortar retailer lose my business, but so does everyone else except for the previous owner of the book! I have resolved, however, that when I become a successful writer, I will buy new books. 🙂 As to where…

    IMHO, book retailers need to re-think their business model. I believe there is a place for paper-and-ink, and given how wedded to filling out paper forms we still are (even at places like Best Buy), I think traditional books are here to stay. But I think bookstores need to re-invent themselves. They need to re-image themselves less as the place to go buy books (though obviously they still will sell books), but the place to *experience* books. The place you go to talk face-to-face with fellow readers, to meet authors… think of the Harry Potter launch parties–you couldn’t do that online, not with the same sense of community and “event” that many attendees experienced.

    Anyway, that’s my 2-cents. 🙂

  33. Giora on August 11, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    This read like a conflict from a novel. I like the passage, ” .. and yet, and yet … why can’t I have both?” Nice way to describe the conflict of the heroine.

  34. Beth MacKinney on August 11, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    It’s very nice of you to assume personal blame for killing Borders, but I think a lot of it has to do with other things.

    I purchase most of my books from Amazon. Why? Because I pay about a third to 50% less when I do. It doesn’t surprise me if Borders went down, because they charge top dollar for their books. People are trying to pinch pennies in this economy. Much as I sympathize with Border’s plight, my husband was out of work (or very underemployed) for 16 months. I had to be extremely careful about our purchases, and stick with only the basics.

    Still, I’m an avid reader, so I did manage to purchase some books during that time. But I went to the library and made sure I liked a book before buying it. Also, I usually I got them from Barnes & Nobles (which is closer to us than Borders) or from Amazon.

    The bottom line is, you have to be flexible in any business to survive challenging times and flourish in good ones. Borders either couldn’t or wouldn’t make the adjustments necessary to survive. Just being a bookstore and saying, “Please patronize us just because books are great,” is not enough. They have to make themselves competitive, and if they can’t, that’s the way it goes.

    (I really can sympathize. As a person who did electronic production of books for designers and publishers, after taking a few years out to focus on homeschooling my four kids, I returned to find much of my work shipped off to India, where they were paying less than I had been making when I started about 17 years before. I’ll have to either make a lot less for the same work when everything else has gone up in price, or find something else to do. Even though I’m still hoping to do some of the other work that I enjoy, I’m making a shift to fine art—and if you think selling books is hard, you should try art—and teaching children and adults.)

    • Giora on August 11, 2011 at 12:56 PM

      Beth, the personal blame can be applied also to the American economy in general. Americans buy products made in China to save money. This lead to American manufacturing companies losing business and letting go of their American workers. Buying made in America products can reverse the trend. But that’s for another chat.

  35. Stephanie on August 11, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    I agree 100%! I love both and both have places in my life. It’s very unfortunate what is happening. But it looks like there will only be room for one or two giant book superstores…survival of the fittest, I guess. For whatever reason, Borders has had to fold…hopefully Barnes and Noble and other large stores will be able to stay afloat.

  36. Tirzah on August 11, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    I love books. I love my Kindle. I buy double the amount of books I use to buy because the Kindle makes it so easy.

    BUT I do think a lot of the Kindle books are overpriced. One the other day was 11.99. I wanted the book but refused it at that price. I might buy a paperback or an on sale hardback at that price, but not an ebook.

    They are selling me the ebook at the same cost as the mass produced paperback—and they don’t have the cost of the printing. That annoys me.

    I also hate that books I’ve owned for years are being ‘rehabbed’ and re-released on Kindle with a new cover as a NEW RELEASE. Not TRUE!!!!

    But the print people have done this for years.

    I do love my books. I wish Kindle would flag the self-published books so I could avoid more of them. Badly edited, badly formated. I’ve done self-pubbed ebooks—they don’t have to stink.

    I wish their was an approximate page length on books. When some sells you what you think is a novel and you end up with a short story—you feel cheated.

    I don’t go to the bookstore as often and I use to spend hours there. But its not because of my Kindle.

    COnstruction blocked one store to the point it was unusable (B&N). I couldn’t get in the parking lot. The Borders almost never had any good books I hadn’t read. They didn’t update their book shelves enough in my areas. I’d go and there would be the same 16 books I’d already seen.

    And my favorite bookstore, Joseph Beth is just not convenient to where I live. And lately they’ve gotten redesigned and I can’t find anything on the floor.

    So sometimes the Kindle is easier even if I have to be careful of what I buy. 🙂

    And Amazon–well let’s just say they know me. LOL. I order a lot.


    • Tirzah on August 11, 2011 at 12:28 PM

      YIKES!! My typo fingers strike again. Yes I do know the difference from there, their and they’re. Oops.


  37. Mona AlvaradoFrazier on August 11, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    Preferred Borders over B & N however in last two years it was going downhill fast. Their bad business practices (they bought extensively on credit, not cash) and lack of tech and current market strategies were their demise.
    I love books and hate that any book business fails and hope independents and B & N take note of what really happened @ Borders.

  38. Cathy West on August 11, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    Rachelle, I feel the same. I LOVE being able to download a book in less than a minute – the sheer convenience of it for me has won out – especially since you can’t always get new titles in Bermuda that easily – ordering and shipping would take about two weeks. I love reading on my iPad. That said, there is no wifi where I am right now, so yesterday I did walk into an actual bookstore and bought some real books, with covers and pages and that new book smell. There is just something special about holding a book in your hand – almost like coming home. As long as they continue to print books, I will endeavor to do both.

  39. Natalie Sharpston on August 11, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    It’s my fault too. Money, time — always in short supply. While I’m a lover of printed books, I don’t buy a lot of them because… During my commute, I listen to audio books which I check out from the library. It’s the marriage of story and voice performance, both perfect works of art. (The latest: Austenland, by Shannon Hale. Amazing. Funny. An indie movie is being made right now in England.)

    As for Borders closing…it’s just so sad. I kept the email blast from the CEO announcing the closing for my files.

  40. henya on August 11, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    Oh…yes, yes. I miss you too, Borders. Especially the one on 57th @ Park. Used to go in there, order a cup of coffee, rummage through books…and always walk our with something.
    The world is changing right before my eyes. Stay still, please.

  41. Julie Jarnagin on August 11, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    I’m also to blame. Browsing bookstores was how I used to spend my free time. Now that I have a Kindle, I rarely visit an actual bookstore. I even gave away most of my physical books. I only kept reference books and a few books that are special to me.

  42. Camille Eide on August 11, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    No one has asked this so I will: Rachelle, what were the two books you just had to have? 😀

    And I’m with a few here who don’t hold e-books to blame: I’m a tightwad (who isn’t these days?) and buy pretty much all real books on Amazon for the lower price (meaning used if I can – don’t shoot me!). That’s unless I know or love the author and want them to benefit from the sale.

    Most of the books I buy for my e-reader are still in the 9.99 range, which I will buy only if I can’t get it cheaper and if for some reason I just HAVE to have it now. (Which is rarely the case for someone with a TBR pile taller than me and limited reading time)

    I am mainly filling my e-reader shelves with the freebies I find every week with’s weekly newsletter and others I hear about.

    So for me the brick & Morter store’s demise is more about $ fundage $ than it is the convenience of quick downloads and streamlined space.

    • Rachelle Gardner on August 11, 2011 at 2:22 PM

      “State of Wonder” by Ann Patchett

      “Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind” by Brown & Wiley

  43. Cherie Reich on August 11, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    I must admit I prefer reading on my Kindle to hardback/paperback books. It’s so convenient. I do still buy hardback/paperback books if they are cheaper than the ebook, though. Yet I never seem to get to bookstores quite as much. We didn’t even have a Borders where I live now, but back in college, there was one, and I really enjoyed it.

    There will always be ways to buy books, but it’s the atmosphere of a bookstore most people will miss.

  44. Donna K. Weaver on August 11, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    I have a Nook, but I still get paper books, too. But it’s tough, when I have to decide which to get where.

  45. David Todd on August 11, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    So, when will the big publishers begin offering authors e-book only contracts? Tyndale did it earlier this year with four (or maybe six) titles. It seems that may be a way for publishers to keep adding books that will sell.

    I suggest every book that an agent pitches that an acquisition editor likes that marketing/sales kills by a slim margin be offered an e-book contract. It’s passed the first two gatekeepers, just not the third. Do a great cover for $500, which is doable. Do a good proofreading but maybe not edit upon edit upon edit. Advertise through their catalog (paper and on-line), but of course say it’s e-book only.

    I bet they will find some dynamite new authors this way, and will more than cover their costs.

    • Rachelle Gardner on August 11, 2011 at 11:56 AM

      David, by now most of the publishers, large and small, are beginning to offer some e-book only, or e-book first contracts. Each publisher has their own model for rolling this out, but be assured it’s already happening everywhere.

      • David Todd on August 11, 2011 at 12:46 PM

        Thanks, Rachelle. That’s good to know. I hope they also use this as an opportunity to expand their stable of writers by trying out new writers at a much lower cost risk.

  46. Greg Mulka on August 11, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    Borders was struggling long before the advent of Kindle. Ebooks didn’t kill Borders. They commited suicide with a broken business model.

  47. Reba J. Hoffman on August 11, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    A couple of weeks ago, I met a friend at our favorite TexMex cantina. We always meet after her hair appointment which can take forever. I was always happy to wait because I had Borders next door. As I pulled into the empty parking lot and gazed at the completely gutted building that once was alive with books and buyers, I mourned the loss of a dear friend. Life will never be the same.

  48. V.V. Denman on August 11, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    So you’re the one . . .

  49. Kristen on August 11, 2011 at 9:41 AM

    Borders was our favorite family hangout, too. But they often didn’t have the books I was looking for. And Amazon kicks everyone’s tukes on price.

    As for the paper/e-book quandary; I love a well-made paper book, and still buy novels that way sometimes. But honestly, for reference works, it makes way more sense to have something that takes up no space and can be searched by keyword to find what you need. Plus, when you highlight you can look at a page that contains just the sections you’ve highlighted.

  50. Nikole Hahn on August 11, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    I find reading restful for my eyes when it’s words on a page. After being on the computer all day, social networking for writing and ministry, and working on my writing, reading an actual page prevents eye strain.

  51. Sue Harrison on August 11, 2011 at 8:49 AM

    Oh, I will miss them, too. About 2 times a year we leave the dog with Grandpa and drive 4 hours to our nearest “shopping area”. We had the choice of heading southwest for Borders or southeast for Barnes & Noble. We alternated. Now, only one choice. Maybe smaller stores will pop up and fill the gap. Hope so.

  52. Heather Sunseri on August 11, 2011 at 8:47 AM

    I’ve also had these thougths. But for other reasons also. I’m so scared my local bookstore (25 minutes away) will close because of me. And not just because of electronic reading, but because I’m against paying full price for a book when I can get it cheaper on Amazon. It will be all my fault because I’m frugal. But, in my defense, I’ve also noticed lately that bookstores have so little stock, that most of the books that I look forward to buying aren’t even there, so I end up buyng it on my Kindle or ordering it on Amazon. So, I’ve stopped looking. But I would be so terribly sad if I didn’t have a book store to browse around in.

    So, I’m sorry, too. I join you, Rachelle, in wanting it all.

  53. Debbie Baskin on August 11, 2011 at 8:47 AM

    I share your feelings…. but I love my Nook. 🙁 That said, there are some books that I want copies of sitting on my bookcase. I like the feel of a book in my hands. I like the smell of a book – especially when it’s fresh and new or when it has coffee stains on it from being a treasured read.

  54. Katy McKenna on August 11, 2011 at 8:41 AM

    I can’t help thinking of You’ve Got Mail. Kathleen (and her mother before her….) handsold books to eager children, and read aloud to them in a circle, until the “evil” big-box bookstore went in across the street and wiped out the sweet indie store. The big-box store, while no where near as personal, had a nice area for the kids and a reading circle and Kathleen eventually resigned herself to the idea. But I’ve been observing my new grandkids. Their parents pull out an iPad to let them play with the piano app or something else flashy or noisy to distract them from fussing. They don’t pull out an e-reader when it’s reading time! The babies aren’t yet a year old, and they are both book lovers. I do think the industry in general may be underestimating the younger generations'(still developing) love for paper books. Perhaps the young people themselves are only beginning to realize what they’ll miss when the bookstores shut their doors.

  55. Gwen Stewart on August 11, 2011 at 8:18 AM

    I am *definitely* the problem too.

    Because I adore my Kindle. It’s like this: in a fire, grab my husband and children, our family Bible, and the Kindle. Good to go.

    All that said, the Borders closing makes me sad too. It feels final, like when Musicland record stores closed after the advent of Amazon and iTunes. Technology moves at such warp speed now that our own children don’t understand how we grew up. Yet in times past, our children would be doing the very same things our great-great-grandparents did. It’s jarring to contemplate.

    Great post as always, Rachelle…and RIP Borders. 🙁

  56. June on August 11, 2011 at 8:08 AM

    It is often said that traditional publishing will be destroyed and go the way of the music industry where musicians have to go on tour to make a living now.

    With the convenience of technology, people often forget the flip side of it–the ease of ability to steal products without paying, putting people out of work, etc.

    Things often are not as easy as they appear on the surface. I do love my Nook and often struggle to decide whether to buy a book electronically or get a hard copy.

  57. Wendy on August 11, 2011 at 8:07 AM

    I want both.

    I had the strangest sensation walking with my daughter through B&N the other day. She looked at me and said, “Will this soon be gone too?” (Because of course I’ve told her about Borders). Her question sounded like something from a dystopian movie. The end of an age stuff. And yet I hear so much adoration for Kindles and e-readers. And I’m a huge Amazon fan. So there is good in all this, but still…

    I have an old lady heart and I love my full bookshelves!
    ~ Wendy

  58. Rick Barry on August 11, 2011 at 7:45 AM

    I suspect that Amazon shoppers (guilty here) wield more influence in this story than you, Rachelle. So, chances are the evening news won’t connect your name with the demise of Borders.

    However, in a similar vein, we once had 3 Christian bookstores in my county, and now we’re down to two. I try to stop and give one of them business from time to time…but it costs me extra gas and effort to get over there, so I order online too. If these last two close down, I might share your feelings of having failed them.

  59. Katie Ganshert on August 11, 2011 at 7:40 AM

    I miss Borders too!!! I have to say, when I got my contract, the first place I envisioned my book was on the shelves at Borders. 🙁

    But Rachelle, if you’re the problem, than I’m THE problem. I have to admit, I read Kindle books more than real books.

    Here’s what I like about Kindle:
    I like that my books don’t overtake my house anymore. I like that I don’t have to wait for them to be shipped. I like that I get to read all the samples in the world for free. I like that I don’t have to hold open the pages (how lazy is this?)

    Here’s what I like about real books:
    I like…scratch that…I LOVE seeing the beautiful cover art. I love flipping through the pages. I love the smell. I love the smoothness of the cover. I love holding it in the weight of my hands and seeing how the publisher designed the inside stuff – like chapter titles and scene breaks.

    But the sad fact is….I don’t buy real-live books anymore. I read them if we already have them or if somebody loans me one. Or I’ll buy one if it’s not offered on Kindle (which is very rare these days). Otherwise, it’s ebooks for me.

    As I write this…..I’m starting to miss real books.

  60. Peter DeHaan on August 11, 2011 at 7:22 AM

    It is always sad when a business that we value and love closes.

    But the reality is that everything changes, and while some will adapt to their altering environment, others do not — and die.

    Borders failed to adjust their business model for a changing market. However, I am confident that other book stores will figure out a way to not only survive in these new market conditions, but also to thrive.

  61. otin on August 11, 2011 at 6:46 AM

    It’s sad in a way. I can’t get into the whole electronic reading thing. My eyes get weary for some reason.

  62. mark williams international on August 11, 2011 at 5:40 AM

    Borders in the UK vanished a year or so back and at the time it was a huge loss to me as a reader.

    But times change. B&N might survive in name, but as a paper book store its day are numbered.

    It’s digital arm will survive and grow, although until it gets its act together and allows international buyers like Amazon it will never compete fully.

    But the real joy of the Kindle is being able to access the “indie” writers whose works failed to interest the gatekeepers because the didn’t tick the right commercial boxes.

    In fairness to the big publishers, producing a paper book is a huge investment and there are only s many spaces on a bricks and mortar shelf.

    The Kindle and its ilk give new writers a chance to be read, and just like in a real book shop, readers will find what they like and tell others.

    It’s a great time for readers, with huge diversity and choice, and an even better time for writers, who can prove they have a market for their books, and then be picked up by agents / publishers.

    Real people will lose real jobs, and that’s sad. A paper book is a joy to hold, and losing that will be sad too.

    But for readers and writers the future is brighter than ever.

  63. Mike Koch on August 11, 2011 at 5:36 AM

    So it’s your fault. Okay then, where do we send the hate mail? Just kidding. I’m with everyone else, I love the atmosphere but seldom buy much aside from a cup of coffee. Nice place to get inspired to write though, so now I reckon I will have to find a public library or cafe to get that fix.

  64. Rosemary Gemmell on August 11, 2011 at 5:05 AM

    You sum up my feelings exactly – although I still buy paperback books occasionally.

  65. Ted Cross on August 11, 2011 at 4:57 AM

    I never buy hardcovers. They are heavy (I move a lot for my job) and too expensive. I just wait for the paperback, and I believe strongly that the ebook should come with any purchase of the book, whether hardback or paperback.

  66. Jeanne on August 11, 2011 at 4:38 AM

    I, too, will miss the Borders near my home. I enjoyed going in, seeing the books, paging through a few promising books. I confess, though, I always looked for the sale items, rarely buying anything new.
    I just got a Kindle, and I really like it. I can’t however, read it when I’m brushing my teeth, like I can a print-and-paper book. So, I am still a lover of “traditional” books. I don’t think Borders will be the last bookstores to close their doors, but they are probably one of the more noticed because of their size. They will be missed.

  67. Mike on August 11, 2011 at 4:32 AM

    Obsolescence is a tricky animal. Printed books are obsolete just like buggy whips.

  68. Nancy Kelley on August 11, 2011 at 4:25 AM

    I would feel guilty, except I know that most of the time, I wouldn’t have purchased the hardcover book anyway. I’m on a tight budget, and the advent of ebooks has made it possible for me to purchase far more books than I could afford in the past.

    So yes, I did exactly what you described–but I don’t think it affected Borders’ sales a whit. However, I do think it helped the individual authors whose titles I would not have purchased otherwise.

  69. Lorelei on August 11, 2011 at 4:13 AM

    I will not miss Borders. When I’m on the mainland I take my custom to one of the great independent bookstores, Chaucer’s Books in Santa Barbara, and fill boxes to send home to Kauai.

    When I ask a staff member in Chaucer’s about a book or an author, they answer my question. In Borders they would ask their computers.

    I lived in fear for years that the chain bookstores would put Chaucer’s out of business. Instead, two Borders and the Barnes & Noble in Santa Barbara have closed and Chaucer’s stands triumphant.

    Want books? Go to a place that knows books. And if you visit Chaucer’s, I should note you can’t get movies, DVDs, or a latte there.

  70. Beth K. Vogt on August 11, 2011 at 4:05 AM

    I’m a split personality when it comes to books. I gave into my husband’s plea to “Please buy a Kindle!” The multiple To Be Read (TBR) piles (think in the house and in the car) were driving him crazy.
    And I found that, yes, I like my e-reader.
    But I also like holding a “real” book. And I buy both.
    I buy from Amazon and I walk into Barnes and Noble and browse … and buy.
    I was always more of a B&N gal, rather than a Borders gal.
    But still, I am sad to see the Borders near my home closing.

  71. Lisapk on August 11, 2011 at 3:17 AM

    I will always love a great book in my hands! Nothing like flipping the pages and no electronic device will ever be good enough for me! Sorry Boarders no one else sees it like I do.

  72. Laraqua on August 11, 2011 at 3:15 AM

    I’m missing Borders already. It was great to be able to just sit and read… Oh well. I guess the Kindle users made my decision for me! I just prefer paper-and-ink books because I don’t have to worry about compatibility through the years. Sure, they try to make the books forward compatible, but can they really guarantee I can pass on my fave books to my grandkids in twenty or thirty years time?

  73. Addison Moore on August 11, 2011 at 2:12 AM

    I think I’m a tad worse than you are. I started walking around Boarders and B&N with a pen and paper, making lists of what to buy on my Kindle, which I would proceed to do so in their cafe. Yeah. I feel bad too.

    • Missives From Suburbia on August 11, 2011 at 6:01 PM

      Nope. It’s not your fault. It’s a terrible business model.

      I love my Kindle. I have actually walked around a Borders to look at titles, used Borders’s free wifi to enter the titles into Goodreads to read the books’ reviews, then ordered the best ones from Amazon for my Kindle. Right there. In the store. Even worse? I once bragged about doing it on Facebook.

      Amazon created a better business model, and all of the technology exists to support it. Sorry, Borders. I’ll miss your quiet tables where I sometimes set up shop to write. It’s a shame you were poor businesspeople.

  74. Loree Huebner on August 11, 2011 at 1:39 AM

    RIP Borders

  75. Sam on August 11, 2011 at 1:35 AM

    I have to agree with Erik above… the more I read, the more wonderful obscure things I want to find– and also the more authors I discover, the more I want to read their out-of-print (or just off-the-shelf-space) backlists. Whenever I got a gift card I’d walk into a Border or B&N with my big wishlist of books and be lucky to find two or three from my list in stock…

  76. Natalie on August 11, 2011 at 12:55 AM

    I don’t have an e-reader (yet) but I also don’t like hardcovers (so heavy – and so emotionally weighty somehow) or large-format paperbacks (bulky). I still wait and wait and wait for the little paperback to come out.

    I love holding a real book, so I’ll hold out as long as I can against e-readers.

  77. Nancy S. Thompson on August 11, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    I love gadgets, but I love real books more. I will likely be one of the last holdouts for the Kindle or related products. As it is now, after three years of a crappy economy, I can longer afford my love affair with hardback books. So I rely on my county library. When my friend, Jennifer Hillier’s book came out in hardback last month, I requested they buy it & they did, 6 copies! I can’t wait until I can afford to buy books again. Hope it’s not too long. The industry is evolving so quickly, I fear hard copy books are on their way out.

  78. Erik on August 11, 2011 at 12:37 AM

    Everytime I ventured into a Borders and looked for my favorite authors I found close to nothing. Sure maybe a dozen copies of Flash Forward by Robert J Sawyer but nothing else. Absolutely nothing. So I would ask and I got that awful response, “we can order it for you.” I can order it and usually for cheaper.

  79. Mesmer7 on August 11, 2011 at 12:33 AM

    Or it could be people like me who only read what’s available at the public library.

  80. Jessica Bell on August 11, 2011 at 12:23 AM

    I read both too. But most of my paperback purchases are from Amazon because I live in Greece and the English book range in actual bookstores is very limited. So I’m not much help either. I think it’s horrible that Borders is closing. I loved going into Borders when I lived in Australia. I’d purchase, and then sit and have a coffee at their cafe. Loved it. So sad …

  81. Scott Appleton on August 11, 2011 at 12:21 AM

    I think the real reason for the closings was bad business practices. Don’t get me wrong: I love Borders. I grew up going there and loved to hang out there. The problem was cost. Why in the world would I pay $27 for a hardcover when I can purchase it online for $15. But if they had used their size to their advantage, ie. inventoried and deep discounted their titles, I would much have preferred to purchase from them.

    Rachelle, if you could have purchased those hardcovers for a reasonable cost, competitive with your Kindle, would you have taken the hardcovers or the digital versions?

    I am a die-hard for the tactile sensation and actually having the book on my shelf. I don’t care to have it in a ‘reader.’ And I’m only 25… with many, many people I run into and meet on my book tours saying they feel exactly the same way.

  82. Lynn Nicholas on August 11, 2011 at 12:15 AM

    Just can’t do it. Can’t buy/use a kindle. I have to have the sensory experience of a book in my hand. The textile feel of the material, the cover art: an entire world wedged between the front and back covers waiting to be savored. I’m sure I’m as responsible for Borders closing as is the Kindle user next to me because I do buy used books on Amazon, trade on and, and buy at library sales. But…. I’m a Kindle holdout and hope to remain as such for as long as I can. Just call me antiquated, or stubborn. Your choice.

    • Dionne Obeso on August 11, 2011 at 8:25 PM

      Most people I know who talk about how much better paper books are than ebooks have not actually held a Kindle and read on it. I have to admit that I was an early adopter. I wanted one the minute they came out, and finally managed to get one when the K2 arrived, and then recently upgraded to the K3 and passed my old one to my husband so he can have one, too.

      I like paper books… but I LOVE having as many books as I could want in my pocket whenever I want to read them. I love being able to send paperwork, PDFs, and other things to my Kindle to read on the go – and this is especially useful now that I judge writing contests and get entries via PDF. I love being able to buy a book whenever and wherever I am and start reading now. I love the easy reading screen. I love that I can read one handed, including turning the page. I love that I can prop it up and read while my hands are busy, no need to weigh pages down to keep them open. I love that my books will never get beaten up, lost, or damaged – I can read them as much as I want. I could go on and on. Now that I have my Kindle, I almost have to force myself to read the dead tree books I have left over from years ago.