Bye, Bye, Borders

News broke this week that Borders is closing all of its remaining stores by September at the latest.  As I write this blog post, I’m currently sitting at the Borders cafe in Dickson City, PA, and I was informed by a cafe worker that the cafe will close tomorrow, but the store may remain open for a month or so.

However, it’s clear as soon as you walk into the store that it’s closing. Outside of the main entrance, there are boxes and racks of books on sale, and other discount racks are located throughout the store. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the merchandise is deeply discounted.

 Though I never bought many books here (I always like to shop at indie bookstores or order through presses directly), I have frequented the cafe quite often. Over the years, I’ve written MANY poems at the Borders cafe. It served as my place to go to write, free of distraction. A good chunk of the poems in my chapbook were drafted or revised at the cafe. I also used the cafe to read the latest issues of Newsweek, the New Yorker, Time, and other favorite social/political/writing magazines. I just don’t have the money to subscribe to all of these.   Borders also served as a place to get grading and lesson planning done once I started teaching.

What’s especially unfortunate for residents in the Scranton area is the fact they no longer have any bookstores. Anthology New and Used Books, a wonderful indie bookstore, closed a few months ago. Now, Borders will be gone. There are two Barnes & Noble stores in Wilkes-Barre, but for a lot of people, that’s too far to drive. Perhaps people will start using libraries more, but libraries don’t have the cafes that Borders stores have to allow for socialization.

There are also far-reaching consequences of Borders closing, and this NPR article points them out. First and foremost, there’s the fact that 10,700 employees will now be out of work, during a time when the economic recover has been anemic and unemployment is still around 9 percent. The article also points out that the closing of Borders will have a direct impact on book sales and jobs within publishing companies. Some publishers have whole wings dedicated to working with Borders and promoting books through the chain. What will happen to those workers? Also, Borders provided opportunities for writer events and readings. In fact, when my poetry chapbook was released, one of the first readings I did was at a Borders in Boston, where my publisher is located.  Poets especially rely on readings to sell books. The loss of Borders equals a loss of jobs and a serious loss of book sales.

I’m hopeful that another bookstore will take Borders’ place here. Maybe Barnes & Noble will open here. Or better yet, maybe another indie bookstore will open in the Scranton area. But, as the NPR article points out, for any bookstore to survive in the age of the E-reader, it’s going to have to be incredibly innovative.

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