Vaya con libros, Borders.


I had two thoughts about the closing of Borders:

1. Given the number of smaller and/or independent bookstores that fell beneath their mighty, coffee-barred heel, there's probably a certain amount of karmic payback here.

2. Given the amount of time and money I've spent at various locations through the years, I'm going to miss the place a lot, karma be damned.

Growing up in Bangor, Maine, in the 80s and 90s, there really wasn't a whole hell of a lot to do after 9 p.m. If you weren't 21, didn't want to go to dance clubs, didn't want to hang out in random parts of downtown, or didn't know anyone who had a place where you could get up to all manner of illicit activities, you were S.O.L. And I, of course, was under 21 and entirely too nerdy to consider dancing, downtown, or illicit anything. But when Borders opened, it was this amazing, heretofore unheard of thing in the Bangor area: a giant bookstore that also had a cafe and, best of all, somehow managed to stay open later than pretty much any other business in the area.

Basically, if you were young and nerdy in Bangor, the opening of Borders was a little like the kids in Footloose getting to dance for the first time. At long last, there was something to do between the closing of the mall and the acceptably late enough time to get your friend who actually had a car to drive you out to Dysart's (the local truck stop and late night purveyor of pie and curly fries). It wasn't much of a nightlife, but by God, it was something, and something after a lot of nothing is pretty much everything.

Years later, after moving to Rhode Island, I worked at a different Borders for a little while. The pay was terrible, so it was a very hand-t0-mouth existence while I worked there, but it was by and large a fun place to work, mostly thanks to a few fun managers and a boatload of awesome co-workers. Some of those people are still there, and they're still as friendly as ever, so I really hate to see them lose their jobs.

I hope some good comes out of all of this. I hope the people who find themselves out of work land on their feet. And I hope that in the absence of a retail 900 pound gorilla, smaller independent bookstores are able to reclaim some of their original niche when and where they can (and they can, even in the age of Amazon, assuming they have community support). But mostly, I hope whatever comes up to take Borders' place in the landscape is similarly inviting to the nerdy kids with no place else to go.

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