As many of you have already heard, our beloved chain bookstore Borders declared bankruptcy on February 16. While this may not cramp the style of a lot of you, this disheartens me very much because a) there’s a Borders very close to my office, while the nearest Barnes and Noble is considerably further away, and b) as a member of the publishing industry I feel I’m partly responsible for perpetuating the online/e-book revolution that is putting a hit on the economy, cutting jobs and quite literally revolutionizing the world as we know it.
Since there is only so much I can do in a day, and I haven’t quite figured out how to fit world domination in between going to the gym and watching Pretty Little Liars, I traveled over to the Borders bookstore on Boylston Street yesterday to see if I could make any kind of dent in their financial woes. Inside, the store promised 20 percent off of everything, that is, if you could find it.
Many of the sections of the store looked like a literary war zone, basically like the school supplies aisle in Walmart in the beginning of September. Books to me are very sacred, so to see so many lying helplessly on the ground, to see softcovers bent and hardcovers scratched, to see titles out of alphabetical order was very, very disturbing. Oddly enough, the self-help section was neat and organized. Analyze that.
Most of the books I wanted to buy were either in the history, travel or literature sections. Except one, which was in “true crime,” downstairs by romance and science fiction (people who should not be grouped together ever: homicidal Trekkies with an abundant sex drive). Mine were probably the most picked over sections, with African travel books in the European section, Oates next to Didion and Lauren Conrad’s Style in the biography and memoirs section (although something tells me that might have been correct, which is so very frightening). Nowhere to be found was Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City, and at this point I’m just going to assume that a higher being is at work and doesn’t want me to read it.
After about an hour of dodging fallen books, bargain seekers and the one or two homeless people who had decided to commiserate with the books, I brought my purchases up to the cashier in the hopes they were handing out medals to those who had come out to support them. They were not. They did however mark all of my purchases with a black X so that I can’t return them. “To where?” I asked. “You don’t exist anymore.” Then I got home and discovered the picture frame I bought doesn’t fit my brand new “Assistant of the Year” certificate. Karma’s a bitch.
In the end, I wound up with $85 worth of swag – which included The Monster of Florence, the ill-fitting picture frame, a DVD copy of The Young Victoria, A Secret History of the World, a Signet version of Alice in Wonderland, and David Egger’s A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. These should keep me occupied for a few years (I’m a very slow reader). But more than that, they’ll probably line my bookshelves when I’m 80, and telling my grandchildren about these things called bookstores, which were kind of like the one’s on the internet, but in real life.