Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Shrinking Avenue to Readership

I suppose, like some of you, I have made a special trip to Borders this week to see if there are any good deals in their clearance sale. That’s right, ironically, if you don’t read, you may not have heard. Borders is going out of business. I have always enjoyed going into large bookstores. Outside of Portland, that leaves you with Borders and Barnes and Noble for the most part. When I was younger I flocked to Borders. I even worked there for five days, but that’s a different story. As I have aged (a little bit), I prefer Barnes and Noble. It seems more astute, more bookish. Maybe it’s the interior. I think it’s a little darker with higher bookshelves and I feel more likely to run into someone reading or writing some great tome in the corners of a big Barnes and Noble than in Borders.

I digress. I am getting way off point here. I go to Borders at least once a week since there is one in the building I work in. However, I did pay a special visit on Saturday to see what kind of deals could be had. There wasn’t much to be found, at least not yet. Those might come a little later with just days to go before Borders shuts down forever. But I did notice the people. They were everywhere. The place was packed. The last time Borders saw this much traffic was when the last Harry Potter book came out. My first thought at seeing the crowds was how much better the world would be if bookstores were always this crowded. And, how sad it is that it takes a closing of a bookstore to bring out the throngs. There were clearly a lot of readers there, snatching up armfuls of books that must have been on the “to buy” list, but had never made it to the “bought” list for some reason or another. Perhaps, in this economy, they were just too expensive.

What stores are left after Borders? How long will Barnes and Noble last? I don’t know, but I pondered those questions as I strolled through the aisles while making mental notes of the things people were grabbing at. A lot of DVD boxed sets, 2012 calendars, and board games. I stopped at an oft-ignored display of Moleskine journals, found one my size, and joined others in line. A $5.99 copy of Kindergarten Cop tempted me right before checking out. I could take it home and watch it and perfect some new Arnold lines. Not enough work. I settled with the Moleskine and it’s pliable leather cover and blank pages.

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