I'm feeling a little melancholy tonight. I never thought I'd feel that way about the closing of a "big box" store, but there you have it. We lost so many independent bookstores when the big guys opened and I was pained by each closing. The stores and their owners were so passionate about books. They knew the books, they knew their customers.
As a book-a-holic, I explored the big stores and discovered, much to my surprise, that the Borders in my town didn't feel like a big store. Yes, it had two floors and a lot of floor space but there was a different attitude. When the store opened, the staff cared about their customers and truly loved books. There was space on the first floor for readings and signings and a nice little cafe upstairs where you could sit and read. There was wonderful live music on Friday nights.
That Borders had the most amazing Community Relations Director. Dottie MacKeen read every book and would set up the author signing and talk with decorations geared toward something in the book. If the character made a recipe, so did she and served it at the reading. I approached Dottie about taping my cable tv show, "Creatively Speaking," in the store. She liked the idea and got permission for me to do that. The atmosphere was certainly better than the studio and it became a real win/win for us. I believe that was the only Borders to have a TV show taping there monthly. It became a community event so we were able to tape in front of a live audience.
I had some amazing guests on the show while we were at Borders. Everyone from Anne Rivers Siddons and Barbara Delinsky to Halle Ephron and dozens more. It was a wonderful experience.
It was Dottie who said she wanted to host a book launch party for my first book. I had no idea that anyone could have a launch party for a dog book! It was held upstairs in the cafe and it was taped for "Creatively Speaking." Dottie hosted that show. I had other launches in the store, always creative and fun.
When Dottie left I could feel changes in the wind but people move on so I tried not to think about it too much. Structure changed and the next person in her job had to cover more stores. With more time, coupons began to appear in my e-mail. Hmm. The writing was on the wall. But I hoped that they could save Borders. And then the store in my town closed. It nags at me whenever I drive by that location where a cell phone store is in its place.
I think the major change I noticed was the sudden popularity of e-book readers. I couldn't imagine how they would become so popular so soon. I was more surprised when other authors began to buy them. If we aren't supporting books, what hope is there for bookstores? How can an e-reader begin to compare with the feel, the smell, of a real book?
Please don't tell me it does and I should try it. I did try it to see what the fuss was about. I tried my friend's e-reader. It isn't the same. Not for me. Maybe I'm a dinosaur.
So, Goodbye Borders. I'll miss you. I'll miss the impromptu stops at the store just to browse when I would inevitably buy something before I left. I'll miss running in to buy a book to read on the plane before a trip. Borders became like an old friend. This is it. The end of the line. The end of an era.
Goodbye old friend.
Causes Darlene Arden Supports
The Marcia Polimer Abrams Fund for Canine Behavior Studies at the AKC Canine Health Foundation