img_0679Yesterday, my local Borders kicked over into 50-70% off mode, and this morning I stopped by to see if they might possibly have anything I wanted. To my surprise, I found about $25 (which is to say, $50) worth of stuff I didn’t mind snagging in paper: the first two Kencyr omnibi (okay, “omnibuses” is more correct, but “omnibi” sounds neater) by P.C. Hodgell, Carousel Tides by Sharon Lee, Jumper by Stephen Gould, and Kitty Raises Hell by Carrie Vaughn. And buying them gave me some interesting insights into my reading habits.

img_0699I had read all of these books already except for Carousel Tides. I had all of these except Jumper and Carousel Tides as e-books (and since Carousel Tides is from Baen, I could get the e-book even cheaper than I got the paper book). I had Jumper as a paper book, and I had several of the Kencyr books that made up the omnibi in paper, too. And there were a couple of books I hadn’t read yet that I halfway considered—Charlie Stross’s The Fuller Memorandum and Wireless, that I could have gotten for $12.50 and $4 each in hardcover and paperback respectively—but I realized I really wasn’t interested enough in them to want to deal with paper.

img_0700And I realized I wasn’t really buying the paper books for myself, either. I was buying them to give to someone else in the future—either personally or via BookCrossing. I was buying paper not for myself, but to share with somebody else. Indeed, I don’t want paper for myself anymore—but that doesn’t mean I can’t find reasons to buy it when I really want it.

16wheelertrailerThe store itself was pretty sad. It’s probably about a month away from closing, according to the staff. As I walked into the store after work this evening to snag some DVDs, I passed a truck with emergency lights flashing and a trailer hitched up that had a number of shelves and other fixtures sitting on it—the store is selling everything, after all. Further out in the parking lot sat a 16-wheeler that I was told was going to be used for hauling away some bigger fixtures.

img_0694Inside, empty shelves outnumbered full ones, and many fixtures were labeled for sale (or not for sale, respectively). The public restrooms were closed with plumbing problems. The science fiction section took up only about four shelves, and was badly disordered—I guess the store staff gave up on trying to keep the shelves properly alphabetized since they’re just closing anyway, and people stuck books back in wherever they wanted to.

img_0698The store selection isn’t terribly good, but at 50-70% off, the deals are fairly decent on the remaining selection. Apart from the aforementioned books, I snagged a couple of DVDs at half-off at prices better than I could find on Amazon. If I’d cared to go through their music selection, I imagine I could have found a CD or two I’d have wanted, too—it’s a different story from the early days I mentioned here.

img_0691img_0689As I left, as the store was closing for the night, I encountered an older lady walking out at the same time and we discussed the fate of Borders. The subject turned to e-books, and she expressed skepticism that she could ever get into them, and I countered with talking about how my parents met a succession of technologies they couldn’t imagine using until they tried them and then discovered they couldn’t do without them—the Internet, cell phones, Netflix streaming—and e-books were probably going to be the same way. She was also intrigued when I brought up Project Gutenberg and its tens of thousands of public-domain titles.

img_0701img_0708It’s going to be interesting to see what comes to the store space after Borders leaves. Perhaps I could ask the management of the strip mall if they’ve had any offers. We’ve still got a Barnes & Noble here in Springfield (just about a block away from the Borders) for now, but that’s going to be the only chain bookstore in town after Borders closes. I wonder if we might get a Books-a-Million or a Hastings, both of which have branches an hour west in Joplin but not currently here.

And I wonder how long it will be until Barnes & Noble runs into the same sort of trouble.


  1. Over the last decade or so, as I’ve read more and more electronically, I’ve visited fewer bookstores. One unintended consequence of this is my viewing of magazines has declined. By a lot in the last few years. I’m not planning on buying stock in a bricks-and-mortar-only bookstore any time soon. I probably wouldn’t buy stock in a magazine publisher either.

    Jack Tingle

  2. I regularly browse bookstores but the frequency has decreased from once a week to once a month due to the selection. I too wandered into our only downtown bookstore (Borders) and instead of leaving with one book I left with eight. Most are new writers that I discovered through Kindle book posts. These little gems would normally be so over-shadowed by the not-so-good mass market cookie cutter books but the bare shelves made them easier to spot.

    I and others will miss Borders. The stores were well located, nicely arranged and the staff were always excellent. The loss of Borders will have a strong, negative impact on all chain bookstores as more people will turn to online purchases.

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