Media retail giant, Borders, announced in July that it would close its doors for good. The popular bookstore that opened approximately 40 years ago, announced in February that it had declared bankruptcy.
Hundreds of stores had already been shut down prior to the bankruptcy, and all of the rest have since closed or are scheduled to close within the next several months.
Every store that remains is going through the process of liquidation, meaning that merchandise will be discounted until it is gone. Sales currently range from 40 to 60 percent off regular prices, with additional discounts offered for larger quantities purchased.
While these savings excite many book lovers, fans of the store are disappointed to see it go.
“There’s really no replacement for the atmosphere of a bookstore. It’s simultaneously relaxing and exciting to be surrounded by shelves of books, and online bookstores obviously cannot successfully mimic that aspect of the bookstore,” said senior Josie Rush.
Speculation for writers’ futures also stem from this loss. Such an influential and successful store likely supported hundreds, if not thousands, of new authors. From stocking their books to giving them signing opportunities, the lack of this resource could have quite a negative impact on aspiring writers.
In fact, novelists themselves have expressed mixed concerns over this loss.
“While the immediate impact is troubling, and reveals signs that the industry is changing in significant ways, I try to take a long-range view on these kinds of crises. True enough, books will not be put in the hands of readers in the same way—and sadly, a lot of booksellers and perhaps even some publishers may find themselves out of a job,” said Michael Arnzen, horror author, professor of English and chair of the Humanities Division.
Despite the obvious struggles of book sales in stores, Internet sites for books of all subjects have become increasingly popular over the past several years.
Sites like Amazon.com, Half.com and Alibris.com offer both new and used texts, often at heavily discounted prices. They’re convenient, require no trips to the store and save customers the hassle of having to personally locate their purchases.
And yet these online sites cannot possibly bear all of the positive qualities of stores like Borders.
Borders offered a multitude of media sources aside from books, including movies, music, writing tools, gifts and pop culture merchandise, just to name a few. Most came equipped with coffee nooks where readers could sit, musicians could play and shoppers could rest. In-store help was always made available through employees; in fact, each store had its own help desk.
Still, Borders could not survive. It brings into question the fate of others like it, most prominently Barnes&Noble.
A mere 10 years from now, bookstores could virtually cease to exist. Internet shopping might entirely take over.
The fate of both authors and true book fanatics comes into question with the closing of such a milestone store and will determined in the near future- perhaps too near for comfort.