Yesterday I received an email from Borders, finally admitting that they’re closing. Up until now it’s all been very carefully-worded “We’re in administration, which means nothing!” emails. Yesterday’s email said I’d better hurry, because they’re selling everything for 40-50% off RRP. This seems the right point for me to hit the sales – the prices are significantly reduced, but it’s new enough that there’ll probably still be some decent stuff left.
A dying store is a weird place to be. As I wandered through the Carlton Borders, I noticed stickers on everything. It was like being in Ikea, but a really sad, distorted Ikea with a different mood to the frenzy. In Ikea, there’s stickers on everything – “Look at this bathroom sink! You want it? Look up at the thing that’s lighting it – THAT is for sale TOO!” Likewise in Borders today – I was looking through the hundred or so biographies left in the store (displayed cover-forward, making them look even lonelier), and I realised that if I had the inclination and the money, I could buy the shelf. I could also buy the chair next the shelf. I could buy the stand-up racks they fold wrapping paper over, or I could buy a card stand – all I had to do was “Talk to the shop fitting mgr.”
And the frenzy! In Ikea, there’s a frenzy. It’s students hauling around flat-packs and mothers discovering that you can freeze ice in the shape of space invaders. It’s a weird over-consuming hum in Ikea – in Borders today it was that, but melancholy. You could hear the reverberation getting deeper as things flew off the shelves. One poor sales assistant kept getting requests for books that she just couldn’t fill. All that’s left in that store is the obscure, the non-fiction and the pulpable.
The non-fiction thing’s a bit weird – by no means a revelation, but the fact that the average readers doesn’t seem to read non-fiction in anywhere near the quantities of fiction is sad. There’s so much great stuff out there! I do though, and the four books I bought myself from this Borders’ closing-down sale are:
- The Ticking Is The Bomb, by Nick Flynn
- Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers
- A Dull Roar, by Henry Rollins
- From Hipsters to Gonzo: How New Journalism Rewrote the World, by Marc Weingarten
The sadness in Borders today was really weird and empty. People were there to buy up big, to CONSUME! …but only because time was running out. Only because of the death of one of the book stores who really encourage people to read, who otherwise wouldn’t. I’m not particularly sad that Borders is going or gone – I never really shopped there anyway, I’m just glad I got some cheap books out of their demise. I am sad, however, that those people who were in such a panic today to get their books before time ran out, may not bother to track down their local independent book-seller to seek out what was easy to get at Borders. They might just give up.
…But enough of that. As far as I know the sale’s going until they run out of books. So go pick the pockets of this dying business while you can.