On Wednesday Borders surprised almost no one by filing for bankruptcy. Authors are pissed because the company has not yet paid for the books it sold over the Christmas period. Readers are pissed because another of their local bookstores has bitten the dust.

As a reader it may seem strange that I’ve always had a strong distaste for bookstores. I hate that bookstores have “literature” sections that are a few shelves long, because most of what they sell is not literature. It’s celebrity biographies, books to accompany fad TV shows, and imitations of imitations. For me, they were a necessary evil – a place to visit to sift through the crap and find what you need.

In Dundee, during my university years, we had a handful of bookstores in the town centre, and several littered throughout the West End – the university district. Even by my third year, well before the world economy shat the bed, Dundee’s bookstores were in trouble. They began closing and reopening at smaller premises, with selections more focused on commercial books. The independent stores closed altogether.

I was lucky in my final years of university to find a place called “The Recycling Centre” where used books were 10p ($0.15) each, regardless of their actual worth. It was not a bookstore, it was a warehouse that sold things taken from people who’d died, but they had literally thousands of books. They were the books that had stood the test of time, sitting on shelves for decades.

As a literature student, there were many books I had no choice but to purchase. Most of these were pieces of literature that I could find on eBay or Amazon or at The Recycling Centre, and so I never used the university’s little bookstore. Nobody did. Even for our big textbooks that the store was required to sell, we either shared, bought second hand or went online. The little store moved from location to location to location. Once it was even located in a Portacabin, too small for students to enter.

The big town centre bookstores continued to shift locations and focus on crappier and crappier stock. They were always unwelcoming, too. Security guards would actually say clichéd things like, “This ain’t a library, mate,” if you spent too much time choosing a book. It was more fun to stay at home and use the internet.

Across town we had Borders. Borders was the big, brash American newcomer, but it was hip and cool, very different from the town centre stores. It was on the edge of town, next to an underground nightclub. It stocked literary journals and graphic novels, indie press books and hip magazines no one had ever heard of. They allowed author readings and book signings and let people put posters in the windows.

Borders was well known because of the building that was restored and moved to house it. It was gorgeous; a relic from Dundee’s maritime past. (It’s rare for this city of architectural rape to experience positive change.) It also heavily promoted local authors and small presses, and had huge sections about Dundonian history.

For me, the best thing about Borders was the selection. Rather than focusing on commercial shit (sorry to sound like a pretentious hipster) they actually stocked literature. One could walk around the store and find anything. They had everything written by Hunter S. Thompson and William S. Burroughs, along with lesser known biographies and criticism. They had the old classics, yes, but they also had hip new books. Borders helped educate me in literature.

In between the aisles there were big comfortable armchairs where you could sit and read. No one would say, “Buy it or get out.” You could stay there all day. Upstairs was the obligatory Starbucks, and the staff were cool with you taking books in to read with your coffee.

I’ve always disliked shopping but Borders was a hobby during my final year of university. It was a long walk to get there, but it was worth it. My friends and I would spend hours looking at books. I have some great memories of time spent there.

I was legitimately sad when my parents e-mailed me to let me know that it had closed down. That was a long time ago. Last summer I returned to Scotland for a month and saw it myself – the beautiful old building still stood, dark and empty. A terrible waste.

So I was one of the few who was surprised when on Wednesday I learned that Borders had filed for bankruptcy, but only because I thought they were already dead. I’d been living in a world without Borders for more than a year.

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DAVID WILLS is the managing editor of Beatdom Magazine, and the author of The Dog Farm and Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult'. You can learn more about him on his website.

43 responses to “A World Without Borders”

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  2. Matt says:

    I have mixed feelings about Borders going. Their selection was great, yes, and they could pretty much order anything you wanted that they didn’t have in stock. And I loved just wandering the aisles and letting new discoveries leap off the aisles at me, metaphorically speaking (mostly).

    But they’ve also been hugely aggressive about muscling on the little independent’s territory, and a lot of the smaller local places I used to shop at are closed because of them. And then there’s the whole matter of them owing millions of dollars to authors and publishers…

    I actually haven’t shopped at a Borders in a while, come to think of it. Last time I did the service I received was so terrible (I was blatantly lied to by a manager) that I swore off the chain. I’m curious as to how this is going to play out in the long run; whether the indies will be helped or hindered remains to be seen.

    • Yeah, I’ve read about them muscling in on the little guy, but in Scotland that wasn’t really the case (or at least I don’t think so). Borders was so poorly managed in the UK that it probably didn’t have the ability to do much damage. They were big and well stocked, but it sounds as though they were always in danger, even from the start. I read somewhere that opening up in the UK was disastrous for the entire chain because they over stretched.

      Anyway, I loved that store – the one Borders that I actually frequented. It was fantastic. I attribute the death of Dundee’s other stores to online shopping and the economy, rather than Borders. Although I’m sure Borders was to blame in many other cases.

      I wonder, also, what will happen to Borders… It sounds as though they’re getting some big loan to help them out. Maybe they’ll recover and continue just like the other shitty big chains – with crappier books. I doubt the indies will get much help but I think that some of the bigger ones will survive because there will be just enough interest to keep them floating along.

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  4. Joe Daly says:

    Borders, we hardly knew ye.

    Well, actually, I guess we knew them for awhile. I enjoyed your perspective on Borders’ appearance in your town, playing the role of cool/hip/modern culture purveyor. You’re right that so much of what they sold was not literature. To wit, the candy bars, calendars, overpriced greeting cards, blank writing journals, bookmarks, kitschy over-sized pens, and fitness DVDs. Still, there’s something comforting about knowing that when you really need a book, there’s a Borners nearby where you can probably find it (or at least order it).

    The Borders near me put up “Going Out of Business” signs a couple months ago. In a fit of writerly cannibalism, I greedily darted in and began taking advantage of many of the deep discounts available. Lisa Rae Cunningham had insisted that I read Chuck Klosterman’s Sex, Drugs, and Coco Puffs. I found it for $14, then found an audiobook copy for $9. Score. I sort of felt bad taking advantage of the situation, but on the other hand, I was pumping revenue into what was left of their bottom line, so in my own way, I feel like I sort of helped their cause in their final days. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

    Really enjoyed this read, David.

  5. Thanks, Joe. I read so many “good riddance!” comments from people who hated what Borders did to smaller bookstores, and it just struck me as funny that it was my favourite. In America I came across some cool little indie stores, but in the UK I liked Borders best. The little stores sucked and the big chains were insufferable. I did most of my book buying online for a number of years.

    It is amusing to see fitness DVDs on sale in bookstores, but I suppose it’s another necessary evil. If they had to sell crack to keep in business… well, that’s a bit extreme. But sometimes you have to sell random crap to allow you to sell what you want.

    It will be interesting to see what the future holds. Will Borders die? What of the other bookstores? Will they end up selling four or five books alongside their coffee and fitness DVDs?

  6. Zara Potts says:

    Yep – Borders has just closed its doors here too. Everyone seems to think this is good news for the indie bookshops – which is great, but having said that – books are ridiculously expensive in NZ. The average paperback is $30. However, in a recent survey, it turned out that kiwi’s have a huge appetite for books. On average, every New Zealander buys a book every week and a half. So, I kind of hope Borders can somehow survive, in the maybe naive hope, that book superstores will encourage competitive pricing. This is a silly hope, I know – because so far, it hasn’t been the case.
    But I love bookstores. I could spend hours and hours among the shelves. It is the independents that I truly love though.
    Simon and I did have a really great Frappacino in the Borders in Washington – so for that alone, Borders will always have a place in my heart.
    Nice, evocative piece, David.

    • Thanks, Zara. I’m glad that people in your part of the world are so enthusiastic about books. One every week and a half is pretty damn impressive, I must say. I’ve been through periods in my life when I’ve bought that many books, but certainly that hasn’t been an extended thing.

      One great bookstore I found was in South Korea, in Seoul. It was the only English language bookstore in the country and it was insanely expensive. But it looked cool. It was in a small basement under one of the many prostitution districts. I spent hours looking through the books there.

  7. Becky Palapala says:

    I’m not sure if my love affair with chain book stores is freakish or not.

    I am an excruciatingly picky reader. Sometimes I’ll start 20 books before I get to one I can manage to finish.

    This is especially true if the source of the books is other people’s recommendations or online browsing.

    The only real luck I’ve had finding new/unheard of (at least to me) books and authors has come from physically going to the store, picking up the book, holding it in my hands, looking at the back cover, flipping through it, and so on.

    Huge chain bookstores are incomparable in this regard.

    Though they don’t carry every struggling writer under the sun (no one could), they carry a shitton of writers.

    BUT…and this is important…

    Not TOO many. Not as many as the internet.

    I’m increasingly interested in the ways an embarrassment of options and information can prove crippling to online consumers, particularly with regard to books and music. At the risk of being labeled a traitor, for my part, I find the online slurry of book recommendations, author interviews, reviews, and literary controversies du jour often falling into a meaningless din that my brain has no hope of ever being able to organize or use to any end so reasonable as making a decision. That’s just from among the handful of sites I visit. And there are thousands. The chaos of information is virtually unbearable. It is to the point now that I rarely even bother looking for new books online. I just go to the store. Maybe I’ll see something there that I remember seeing online, but that’s the extent of the internet’s role. That means I’ve gone from store browsing to online browsing BACK to store browsing.

    Ironically, though, even if the field you’re gazing at is exponentially larger online, in a lot of cases, the keyhole through which you view it is smaller. Think of, for example, the Amazon equivalent of picking up a book and thumbing through it. How many other books are in your field of vision while you’re doing that? You’re on the item page for the book you’re looking at, so that’s one. Then, way down at the bottom of the page, if you scroll that far, there are maybe 4-5 “readers also liked” books. That’s it.

    As I said, I may be a freak in this regard, but it seems to me that when it comes to genuine browsing, when you’re truly looking for nothing in particular, the physical experience of browsing to the decision-making process is difficult to replicate. Not because of any kind of book fetish, but because of the way the human brain is designed to seek information for decision-making. It WANTS to involve all its senses. And no kind of book store can really compare, in terms of the balance between sheer volume of options and quality, to a chain store.

    Sorry this has turned into such a tangent. I guess I’ve never really fully expressed my position on this before.

    • Interesting perspective, Becky. I never really thought about it that way.

      Like I mentioned in the piece, my favourite place for buying books was in an old warehouse. There were rooms filled with books from all genres and periods. It was like Amazon, except I could stand there and browse a million and one books at the same time. I’d pick one up, explore it, put it down, find another… The internet has more choice but it certainly hasn’t yet reached that level of comfort and ease with browsing.

      What the internet does have is the recommendation thing. Sometimes you’ll go into a bookstore and there will be little tags beneath the books that say, “John, the store manager, really enjoyed this book. He thought that it…” I think the stores are trying to copying the Amazon review thing to some extent.

      But like you I’m also a picky reader and so I don’t care what John the store manager thinks, and I don’t much care for the 4,598,876 reviewers on Amazon think. I know that if I buy the book there’s a real good possibility I’ll get 20 pages in and find it boring or badly written. So I like to see the book first.

      And yes, the deluge of information online is not only unreliable but overwhelming. I suppose in the end you have to narrow it to a couple of sources you trust. Which means that you are taking the advice or your friends and one or two strangers… just like before the internet.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        That’s another thing that’s super interesting about online browsing.

        The “you might also like” functions.

        Those algorithm-based recommendations.

        Like, say I like look up Edw. Kamau Brathwaite’s The Arrivants in February. I like it because it’s masterful book-length neo-epic poetry, basically, something you virtually never see and a super amazing achievement. But because it’s “African American literature,” and February is Black history month, some website thinks I might also like the biography of Malcolm X and a subscription to Ebony magazine.

        Not even close.

        That said, I almost never take the recommendations of my friends, either. Nothing against them or their tastes, but when people recommend something (myself included, I’m sure) it’s usually because THEY liked it, not really because they have a ton of good reasons to think you will.

        I do have one recommendation from a friend on my to-read list. That’s only because he took the time to sit and tell me a bit about the plot, the themes, and the greater theoretical ideas behind the book. Basically the kind of information I’d gather by standing in the book store, holding it in my hands, and looking at it.

        More importantly, I know that this friend is of really similar mind as me on the themes and theoretical topics the book is about. So it was sort of a book recommendation perfect storm. But that almost never happens.

        This is all just to say, again, I guess, I really prefer browsing physical books.

        • There’s a difference between describing a book and saying, “You should read this.” It’s as though people like it and therefore decide it’s good for you. I’m fine with someone explaining why a book is great, but when they push it it become less attractive.

          The “you might also like” thing is weird. Sometimes it’s accurate, but mostly it’s not. Sometimes it’s just way off, like you said.

  8. “I hate that bookstores have “literature” sections that are a few shelves long,”

    This is one of the more interesting notes I’ve seen. Because now that Borders is bankrupt and Barnes & Noble might (smartly) focus on nook, that leaves, what, Books-a-Million? Also, the Powell’s Gloria mentioned up above (which has numerous branches. How many branches does a bookstore have to have before it becomes, like, big? I know independence is more about who owns it/how it’s run, but still) in the West, anyway.

    I wonder how it will all affect genre. What gets shelved wear is often more about marketing than genre.

    Nice piece. I always used to love Barnes & Noble. Just walking in, browsing, head-cocked-over-right. Scanning spines.– And then going home to buy stuff from Amazon Marketplace. Probably at least one of the sources of Borders’ woes.

    I’m very surprised Borders has no reader. I think I remember hearing it was partnering with Kobo, but just for support. That it wasn’t actually branding one.

    • Irene Zion says:

      @Will, I really like your new gravitar.

      @David,
      I used to go to Barnes and Nobel, still do from time to time, but I do the same as Will.
      I look through the books and then write the ones that suit me on my phone and order them from Amazon when I get home. Why pay double? It’s just common sense. Sorry to see Borders go, though.
      Good place to have a starbucks and look around.

      • Yeah, mostly when I went to bookstores I didn’t buy anything. Sometimes I did it out of principal. I remember buying a Kerouac biography for maybe $50 in Borders once, when I was really poor. I did it because I went there so often and read so much for free. I felt bad. Last summer I really needed a Chinese learnin’ book and so I went to Waterstones. It’s one of the few remaining stores near my parents’ house. I paid a small fortune for the damn thing because I was guilty for learning so much for free online.

        One problem I noted there was that Waterstones wraps it’s most expensive books so you can’t browse! It’s like shopping online.

    • When I was a pretentious literature student I spent a lot of time bitching about a lack of “literature” in the bookstores, and how the window displays were targeted at people who watch too much TV. I hated that every bookstore had at least half the window display aimed at a Big Brother contestant… But I know it’s about marketing and doing what it takes to stay alive and keep bookstores in existence.

      I’ve never been in a Books a Million so I’m not sure exactly what it is, but it sounds like one of those dumping grounds for when there’s a new Big Brother biography out and the old one is dropped from the shelves. We had a couple of these in Dundee (but even they went bust) and they just sold the most awful crap. They were, however, cheap.

      Like I’ve said here a million times, I’ve never owned or even used a book reader. Until a few days ago I only knew of the Kindle. But reading about Borders alerted me to the fact that they were simply late at adopting the techniques others took – online stores and readers. Borders was years behind when it came to the online realm, which is sad, really, because you’d think there would still be enough of a high street market to keep them plugging along. But alas, that’s not the case.

      • I’ve read you say that, but what I’ve never heard you say is that you’re opposed to reading devices, either morally or philosophically. I like that. So many people rally up the “You’ll pry my paper from my cold, dead fingers” battle cry, but I’ve never seen you even posit that it’s an either-or. Which I’ve found refreshing. Because it’s not. I love my Kindle, but I also love my books.

        I’ve never been in a Books-A-Million, either. I used to go to the Barnes & Noble Union Square, sometimes, but otherwise I used to go to the Strand. I love the Strand.

        I hope you like an e-reader when you use one. Kindle’s price is dropping pretty rapidly. $140 is still not a little bit, but it’s not the half-a-grand the iPad requires, either, and it’s a better reading experience for anything longer than a short story (iPad’s LCD is too reminiscent of reading on a screen, for my tastes).

        • I would love to try a Kindle or any of the other devices. I actually went on Amazon the other day simply to research them, to see what they’re about from a sales point of view, and they looks very cool. I would never throw my books away or swear off them in the future, but I think that a reading device would be a nice alternative – something for travelling. I don’t know, I guess I have to try it before making any judgments. I love the idea of not reading on a screen… that the Kindle is something totally different. I didn’t realise that until very recently.

          I would order one but I don’t trust the Chinese post office to deliver it in one piece. They open my mail sometimes, especially if I get books delivered. I wonder what they’d make of that. Kindles are probably banned here.

          Oh yeah, and I’m too broke for $140. Ah well.

  9. Nathaniel Missildine says:

    Your description of the Scottish Borders sounds more interesting than the stateside Borders I knew, where the real retail push seemed to go to selling the magnetic poetry and wrinkly dog calendars. Still, the quiet fiction racks toward the back provided a welcome space and without a doubt the store was responsible for getting more people reading, so in that way it’s a little sad to see it go.

    Also, man do I hate it when bookstore clerks take the “This isn’t a library, no reading” attitude. It’s a rampant problem in French stores. Since it’s one of the precious few advantages a physical bookstore holds over an online seller, you’d think they’d start to wise up.

    • Absolutely. I think that indie stores especially will stand around because of their image. People think of standing and looking through books on shelves. It’s something that happens less and less and so it’s special. Yet in reality people find themselves trying to do that, but being told to move along… Not good business.

      The Dundee Borders, I guess, was pretty special. It really was a hip store, and because there were many of them around, it didn’t seem like a big chain. As far as we were aware it was original. Which seems silly, but we were just a small Scottish town with shitty stores.

  10. D.R. Haney says:

    I’m of a divided mind about Borders, as others have commented of themselves. On the whole, though, I think the disappearance of any bookstore can’t be good at this point.

    More and more, I find myself trying to reconcile myself to the projected disappearance of so many things I hold dear, with little success. Records have all but gone (and I don’t want to hear yet again about the reemergence of LP; I’m not sure the trend will stay); books are going; and soon movies will be watched primarily on tiny screens. It’s not just the loss of the old ways, or objects, that troubles me; it’s the new mind-set, and I don’t have the time in this comment to sketch my impression of it. But I’m sure you can easily fill in the blanks. My impression is far from unique.

    • I understand, but I think I’m a little more optimistic. I think that with music and books and movies some people will always want quality. Shitty books many sell more and more and it may become harder to find good literature, but it will be there and readers and writers will make sure that it’s possible, in the same way that music has continued in spite of everything that would suggest it should have long ago died.

      There’s a store in Dundee’s university district called “Grouchos”. It sells records as well as CDs (and even a few cassettes) and DVDs and VHS and a handful of books. It’s truly independent and people like it because of that. The average shopper doesn’t wander in looking for the latest shitty pop song, but nonetheless they turn a profit and have been going strong since the seventies.

  11. Rex says:

    Another interesting article David 🙂
    I would love to visit that old house in Dundee…
    I’ve enjoyed reading the article and the comments – the level of intelligence I’ve found here, just on this one page, is really quite endearing :). It is rare to such a sight on the internet.

    I’m sorry I can’t really add to the discussion :p You’ll just have to be happy with my compliments :).

    Rex

    • Thanks, Rex. I appreciate your kind words.

      The Nervous Breakdown is a great place. Typically the articles and stories are fascinating, and you’ll find a lot of good banter on the comment boards.

      I agree, it’s very unusual for the internet!

  12. I wrote a really long comment about this and then the internet crashed. Because I’m lazy and it’s so fucking cold my fingers hurt I won’t repeat it.

    But I hate shopping in shops that sell new books. I won’t pay more than £4 for a book, maybe £5 if it’s a big one I’ve spent ages trying to find.

    I won’t even buy the books I need for my course unless I find them in the second hand shops I spend too much time in.

    I went to Borders once, when I was in the US and it was pretty cool, and not that expensive but I prefer the shack by the cathedral that has boxes of books at random.

    • I understand, Irwin. That happens to me all the fucking time. Stupid internet.

      It’s tough being a student because you’re meant to buy so many books. I was required to buy the Norton anthologies of English and American lit and they cost me about a hundred quid altogether. And that was at a discount.

      Random books are great, much better than the big stores. I was in St. Andrews this past summer at a church book sale and I found a Ginsberg biography for two quid. Brand fucking new.

  13. Judy Prince says:

    A nice ode to the Dundee Borders, David. I’ve been to a few bookstores here in Norfolk VA and in L.A. and Chicago, both for new books as well as used-books stores, that invite readers/browsers/coffee-sippers/sitters—–and that’s fabulous, the wisest move a store can make.

    Alternatively, I now nearly always, like you, buy books cheaply online. It just makes sense.

    Enticing us from our homes to buy books seems to be from an era that has passed us by in favour of the convenience and lower costs of getting books online.

    I don’t regret the shift from bookstore to online shopping, but the memory of settling into a comfy chair at a bookstore, sipping coffee, and perusing the aisles of goodies is magnificent. One could be with the beauty of zillions of books at the ready for choosing—-and comfortably reading bits of them—-as well as having the semi-sociability of like-minded readers. Near the U of Chicago was a great bookstore that had a few small tables and a big coffee urn and the NYRoB and LRB and NYT all nicely placed on the table for us readers. And, of course, they scheduled regular author-readings/book-signings. Don’t know if they’re still operating, but I’ll bet they are. Oh, now I AM getting nostalgic!

    Thanks, David, for the memories.

    • Online shopping is a fantastic convenience, but you’ll never have the same kind of nostalgia over it. You’ll never sit back one day and think, “Remember the time I relaxed in front of my computer and then found a cheap copy of _______ on Amazon…” It doesn’t have the same magic.

      I’ve never been into Chicago, just passed through it. But if I make it there I’ll have to take a look for that store. I do tend to buy books on my travels because a) I like to read when I’m moving about, and b) books are great souvenirs. Books can bring back memories. I’ll always remember what I was reading in Kuala Lumpur, when I first arrived in America, when I took the train to Pohang… Some books stick with you because of they way the connect with a memory.

      • Judy Prince says:

        “Books can bring back memories. I’ll always remember what I was reading in Kuala Lumpur, when I first arrived in America, when I took the train to Pohang… Some books stick with you because of they way the connect with a memory.”

        You’re so right, David. It’s like a fragrance, so instantly and deeply evocative of a moment in time.

  14. David Breithaupt says:

    When I was a kid way back yonder in the 60s and early 70s, I used to visit my cousins in Ann Arbor. We would trek to the original Borders store which was nothing like the corporate mutations that you see today. I remember slap dash book shelves, a creaky wooden floor, an eccentric and esoteric collection of books. At the time, I recall buying a lot of Charlie Brown, Pogo and Mad Anthology paperbacks. This is my first memory of a real book store and I was hooked for life. It was sad to see them morph into generic super chains but I still appreciated that there were places still selling books, real books that were not on the Times best seller list. Books for snobs. Books for people who liked to dig beneath the surface. It’s like being a drug addict and you keep chasing that first high. I keep chasing that first bookstore. Haven’t found it yet.

    • What a great comparison, David. Chasing your first bookstore.

      I’d read that the original Borders was fantastic and completely different to the “mutations” that have spread across the world and collapsed. I like that they managed to remain a little more hip than other big bookstores, but I suppose that when you grow and grow it’s impossible to stay completely cool.

  15. angela says:

    just this weekend i visited the San Francisco Union Square Border’s, hoping to get some good deals. it was a complete madhouse. i’ve never seen the store that full, even at Christmas time, and all for what? – just 20% off? maybe they would have done better business if they had had store-wide sales more often.

    although i loved going to Border’s, i rarely bought anything. i’m a cheapskate and hate buying anything, even books i love, at full price, so more often i was at the Strand (while i lived in New York), getting half-priced reviewers’ copies.

    but at the same time, i felt incredibly sad walking the aisles and seeing all the discount signs and the already emptying shelves. sure, Border’s was a huge chain, but it was a comfort. you could find one in almost any city, and hang out for as long as you wanted (though for some reason the bathrooms were always gross).

    i can’t imagine what will be in that huge space instead. a Barnes & Noble?

    • I’m also a total cheapskate but Borders did sometimes manage to crowbar money from my fist. I couldn’t resist some of the books they had – things I’d just never seen before.

      You know, I totally forgot until you said it – the bathrooms at Dundee’s Borders were actually pretty fucking nice. And it’s the only bookstore I ever visited that actually had a bathroom.

      We don’t have Barnes & Noble in the UK, not yet anyway, and probably not ever. I think that building will sit empty until some big discount fad store comes along and fills it temporarily, and then there will be another few years of vacancy.

  16. Simon Smithson says:

    I freaking loved Borders. I spent so much time in SF last week kicking back with a caramel latte and the New York Times in their cafe. Damn, it was pleasurable.

    Oh, Borders.

    If only I was rich enough to buy you.

    I wouldn’t. I’d spend the money on a diamond coat.

    But I’d think about it.

    • Yes, I’d love to own a bookstore or a diamond coat. Or to own both and to walk around, perusing my stocks, whilst wearing my diamond coat. That would be the life.

      I didn’t get to visit Borders in SF, but I did see City Lights and the Booksmith. They were cool. You should try to buy the Booksmith and change its name to the Booksmithson. That would be cheaper than a diamond coat. Maybe about as much as a diamond tophat.

      • Funny, I lived a block from The Booksmith for years and years. It would definitely be a big upgrade to have it renamed Das Booksmithson.

        I refuse to apologize or diminish the fact that I have loved Borders at times over the years. And Starbucks, too. I’ve just been in too many places in the US where either was the only place to get a decent cup of coffee or a copy of Lautreamont’s Maldoror anywhere. Sure, if indies with comfy chairs, newspapers from around the country, and coffee shops inside could replace them, that would be better. In the meantime, I will miss having somewhere to go when not sheltered in some collegiate enclave city where you have enough hip choices that you can afford to bitch about chains.

        • Now that I’m no longer able to drink coffee I can pretend that I hate Starbucks, but there was a time when I loved it (although I practically had to take out a second student loan to buy a coffee – Starbucks UK is almost twice as expensive as in America). I will also hold Starbucks in my heart as the ONLY business that is open in Cleveland on a Sunday, and the only place to get online. It saved my life last summer.

          The Booksmith was very cool. I rolled in there on the worst hangover ever and spent a couple of hours trying not to puke on the books. I picked up some awesome ones, though, for reasonable prices. I keep watching them on Facebook and they seem to be doing some interesting book signings and whatnot.

  17. […] to fight over Korea, but if any of you are interested in the Borders’ bankruptcy, I have a new post up at The Nervous […]

  18. kindle e-reader…

    […]David S. Wills | A World Without Borders | The Nervous Breakdown[…]…

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