Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Borders Books

I read today: "Borders book retail chain suffers sales fall." This reminded me of my last visit to the local "Borders."

The store seemed empty, so many shelves had been removed from it. There were not many customers either. The shelves that remained were full of books that I could have bought anywhere else. But most of the books I would not have bought in any case. Any section that would have interested me was no longer there. Hardly any "Philosophy," but lots of crappy "Metaphysics" and an excess of "Religion" and "Christianity."

I had long given up of finding any book by Sebald, though two years ago they actually stocked some of his novels. I asked myself what I was doing in this place and vowed not to come back.

In the article they blamed Electronic Books for the downturn. I think they have next to nothing to do with the real problem. Borders' sales are falling because they are not stocking enough books of the kind that people like me were buying and would continue to buy. If people find no reason to go to the bookstores, they will a fortiori not buy anything there. I am not sure that this downward spiral can be reversed.

It is not that Barnes and Nobles is any better. When I visited last week the University Bookstore of Boston University, I saw that the Fiction section was downsized, and that "Romance" took up the first row. "Philosophy " was cut in half, "Spirituality" doubled. This is another bookstore I will avoid from now on. Luckily, Cambridge and Harvard Books is not that far away.


Michael Leddy said...

"Borders' sales are falling because they are not stocking enough books of the kind that people like me were buying and would continue to buy": that's it, exactly. They're turning into Waldenbooks.

I'm sorry to hear about the B.U. bookstore, which when I knew it (c. 1985) was really impressive.

I used to live in Boston and environs, and always hit a couple of bookstores when I go back. (Most recently, Brookline Booksmith and the NE Mobile Book Fair.)

MK said...

I knew from your blog that you used to live in Boston. The Boston Bookstore was pretty good until about two years ago. (It is not really bad even now, but it's slipping ...)

I like the Brookline Booksmith and the NE Mobile Book Fair very much as well. My favorite is Brattle's Bookstore (for used books). they have tremendous turnover.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I fully agree with you, sadness is what it comes down to.

Anger also, at the way covers of front-facing fiction books are put on display to make a statement. At the Back Bay Boston B&N for example, Feminism rules, while at Borders the overflowing Romance section is just appalling.

Used bookstores are gone too.
Raven opened a branch on Newbury St recently, but it won't replace Avenue Victor Hugo.

Coming from Paris, France, I've always liked browsing. Back Bay Boston had quite a few independent and used bookstores when I arrived. Most of them are gone now. Ditto Cambridge.

Hopefully people will eventually tire of those chains and liberate themselves.
I hereby suggest the creation of an association. Motto?
"Books without Borders"