I made probably my last trip to Borders tonight. The discounts are up to 60 to 80%, but the place is so picked over that there was really nothing worth it. (I got a few books earlier in the sale.)
I find any bookstore closing to be sad, and Borders was one of my favorites. We discovered it years ago when one opened near Oakbrook. It was like heaven, because it had so damn many books; till then the only alternatives were the tiny little Waldenbooks and B. Dalton’s outlets, or a long trip downtown. Borders had a linguistics section! It had doorways to new worlds, like Dykes to Watch Out For! In its early days, especially, it had a flavor of the independent bookstore it had grown out of. I have Long Tail tastes, so a store with more books was one with more books I liked.
I never liked Barnes & Nobles as much; that seemed to be too geared toward pop favorites and remaindered books. (Also, the closest one is farther away; the Borders was two blocks away.)
I know Amazon has an even longer tail– heck, that’s part of my business plan. But what I can’t get from online shopping is browsing. I like to hang around a bookstore and find new things; I pick up a few dozen books for every one I buy. Maybe Amazon is on the right track with it’s “You may also like” feature, but it’s not good enough yet, especially for the items of pure serendipity: books I love that I had no idea I’d like before I saw them.
Next best: the Seminary Co-op bookstore in Hyde Park. (Actually way better than Borders, but it’s much more of an expedition to get there.)