Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Borders-free UK

I read on literary agent Nathan Bransford's blog last week that the death bells are ringing for Borders UK, a mega-chain of book and music stores throughout the United Kingdom akin to the Chapters/Indigo conglomerate in Canada. I've bemoaned the demise of the small bookstore in cities throughout North America - my hometown only has a Chapters, which is an embarrassment unto itself - and I can't see how any thinking person can fail to see the connection between declining numbers of bookstores and declining literacy rates. (Sure, we can still get books at Amazon, but to get to Amazon you have to load up a computer and look for it. There's nothing like a store that is right there in front of you every time you go out to shop.) But the bankruptcy of a major chain like this is something I thought I'd never live to see.

Meanwhile, my local Chapters is morphing into a children's wonderland, with almost half the store devoted to toys: plasma cars, dump trucks, puzzles, puppets, you name it. Though they claim it is an opportunity to get kids interested in going to the bookstore, I can't get rid of the nagging feeling that this blatant act of self-mutilation smacks more of desperation than innovation.

Rest In Peace, Borders UK. We'll miss you more than we'll ever know.

Thanks for stopping by.


  1. I remember when Borders was itself an independent, a fabulous one, in the heart of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Thoses were the days.

  2. I buy my books online at Chapters most of the time, or at specialty bookstores like Gospel Lighthouse. But most of all, I'm a very loyal customer of my local library! :)

  3. Carol, I didn't know that Borders started as an independent in Michigan! I guess the Borders story is kind of a fairy-tale-come-true from the "family-run bookstore makes it big" perspective - it's better than the alternative of seeing a family bookstore close down - but whenever a new "big chain" comes into the picture, be it in the concrete world or in cyberspace, it seems that it gets harder for the smaller places to compete and stay in business. On the other hand, when the big chains start having trouble, then we know we're looking at a problem. At least, that's my perspective; maybe e-books will bring literature to the masses, but my cynical "Doubting Thomas" personality leads me to suspect otherwise.

    Susan, I too am a frequent visitor to my local library! I don't drive, so I tend to split my book buying between the bookstore and online. Amazon and the like are a great resource when you're looking for a used copy of a book that is out of print.