I read a pretty dismal article in the newspaper this morning. Borders Books has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will close about 30 percent of its more than 600 stores. Apparently, they were late in joining the Internet/ebook/iPad revolution and have significantly suffered (more than $1 billion in debt) as a result.
That royally stinks.
I have a special place in my heart for Borders Books. Not only because I suspect I’m part of the rapidly diminishing number of people who actually love the feel of an actual book in their hands (not on a computer screen, not being tweeted, not Kindled); not only because stepping into a bookstore fills me with the kind of giddy anticipation that I can’t fully describe (but oh, what a feeling!); but mainly for reasons quite close to my heart.
For three years, ages 19-21, I was a bonafide Borders bookseller (never cashier; always bookseller, they told us on the first day). It remains—despite growing up and “real” jobs and all that—one of the most interesting and eye-opening places I’ve ever worked. Why? Make way for my beloved bullets:
- Desire of a Book Nerd Fulfilled: it was the best environment for a happy English major and her obsession with books. I worked at Borders during college and I relished it. I literally cried when they hired me. Next to wanting to work in a library, it was my dream job.
- Of Like Mind: I was working alongside people with whom I had a lot in common, which meant something at age 19. (These days, forget commonality. Give me a paycheck and send me home at 5pm.) Fellow writers, avid readers, just plain awesome people.
- Um…: a fellow bookseller, pure infatuation, but it felt like love. A wonderful, wonderful him. I think about him still, from time to time. ANYway, that’s entirely another Kitten Heel discussion, after I’ve had a few drinks and am quite ready to sink a few ships with my loose lips. Ok–currently inundated with memories, moving on.
- A Little Learning, For Sure: I got to see and learn about the merchandising/business-y side of the book selling game. Pretty interesting.
- Oprah, Power, Still Blows my Mind: She released a book on her show. MINUTES after the airing of this show, a gaggle of women raced into the store and asked for the book. It hadn’t even been released yet. Their disappointment (“But Oprah recommended it. Why don’t you HAVE it?”) was utterly comical. That scenario happened more than once. Yeah. Power.
- Java Girley: most booksellers work all over the store. The front check-out area, the music desk, the information desk, and the café. During my stints in the café, I really took to making the cappuccinos and the mochas and the other coffee drinks (because of my deep, abiding love for caffeine? maybe?). I still remember how make those drinks, many moons later…
End of my beloved bullets. A few memories from that sweet, kind of incredible time in my young life.
I find the situation with Borders undeniably sad and disconcerting, beyond my personal memories. Universally, it would be a terrible loss if these stores disappeared. That giddy bookstore feeling really can’t be beat.