Mourning the Big Bad Bookstore


Remember watching Tom Hanks battle out Meg Ryan as Fox Books took out all the little independents in You’ve Got Mail (1998)?  Well, the opposite seems to be happening in real life.  Borders is dying out in the United Kingdom, surrendering its customers over to smaller and cozier bookshops. 

What do you think?  Yes, large chains are impersonal and lacking in charm, but they do tend to offer books at more affordable prices.  And then there’s just something about spending hours in an independent store with friendly staff and sliding ladders.  While living in Boston this past summer, I spent more time in the small cellar bookshop streets away than in the Borders directly across from my building just because the atmosphere was warmer and more . . . bookish.  Will we be losing something if Borders closes its doors?

Read Rachel Cooke’s “Beyond Borders: the future of bookselling.”


5 Responses to “Mourning the Big Bad Bookstore”

  1. I haven’t ever really had the experience of the small-town bookstore. I always ventured to Borders or Barnes and Noble (at least prior to Amazon and’s takeover). The thing I like about the big bookstores is the selection. I think eventually book stores will go the way of movie-stores like Blockbuster. Sadly, they seem to be on the track to the obsolete with the invention of the Kindle and the ability to buy everything online.
    I will say though, that I love the idea of independent book stores. The smell of books and the coziness seems inviting!

    • The Kindle scares me to death. There is no way I’ll ever own one of those. How can you replace the feeling of a novel with an electronic gadget? But I know what you mean about large bookstores’ wide selection. Smaller bookshops seem better suited for browsing.

  2. I love bookstores. I admit my ‘store’ of choice is Amazon though. I’d love to buy in stores- and sometimes I do- but the prices are just so much lower at Amazon that it’s hard to beat.

    I gave myself the rule that I could only buy things in the bargain area in Borders (and Borders Express- since those were the closest to me). There was often a ten dollar difference with regular books vs the same books on Amazon. The thing with Borders though is that the employees always watched me like I was going to steal stuff. I get that maybe people did steal books and the employees were just doing their job, but it REALLY turned me off going to Borders.

    The Kindle. I have one. Got it for graduation from CCC. I didn’t ask for it, but I admit to have been interested in it. And it is nice. And you can have tons of books on it. I read online all the time (project gutenberg anyone?), so I have no problem reading on the kindle. BUT aside from wanting to hold a book/smell a book etc (which I do love), I just like to look at my collection of books. You can’t just look at all of your electronic books on a shelf in your room- which is what I wanted to do. So I tend to shy away from buying kindle books b/c they’re $10 and I’d much rather have a copy on my shelf- but I do buy things that are super cheap (8 Austen novels for $1 for example) or free (misc books being promoted).

    • I understand that the Kindle is supposed to make books more accessible and everything, but there’s something about it that honestly scares me. Maybe I’m getting old and starting to reject technology, but I can’t imagine reading out of anything but a book. I can’t even read online. I kill hundreds of trees printing, but it is so much more enjoyable for some reason.

      I’ll agree that Amazon is an amazing place to buy books. They are sometimes so cheap! And it also helps my wallet in that I don’t like to put a lot of things on my credit card. I’m known for walking into bookstores with a wad of cash and walking out a few hours later broke.

  3. I love the idea of independant bookstores and would probably actually shop at them more if I had the money, but unfortunately my life currently revolves around getting what I want or need at the cheapest price and most convienent way. I also only know of one smallish independant bookstore here in Orlando anyways, and so the choice is easy for me.

    As for the Kindle discussion, I think you lose something with the Kindle, even if using it is easier for some people. I love holding a book in my hands, and I hate reading things longer than a couple of paragraphs on a computer screen. My parents are getting one for each other for Christmas and it’s sad for me to think of how many books I’ll miss out on from now on, as my family of avid readers always passes good books around to each other. There’s really nothing like reading a really great book and then pressing into a friend’s hands and telling them how much they’ll love it too. You just can’t do that with an expensive electronic device.

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