Buh-bye, Borders. Hello, Indie Bookstores?

July 25, 2011

I make no secret about my love of digital publishing. The fact that I can buy a book from the comfort of my own couch at 2 a.m. if I please amazes me. So you might not be surprised to know I’m not feeling the loss of Borders. But you might be surprised to know it’s because I’m hoping the end of this big-box bookstore will lead to a resurgence of independent bookstores.

swamped bookI don’t ever want print books to go away. Sure, there are lots of amazing things I can do with my iPad and e-readers, but I can’t read a book on an electronic device while I float on a raft in the middle of a pool. (Well, I could, but that would be a mistake, because this is what happens to my reading material poolside.) And while I purchased this doomed book at a grocery store, there’s nothing like book shopping in an intimate, eclectic, romantic, whimsical, haunting, relaxing place.

My ideal bookstore is one where every sense is engaged. (Hopefully you know such a place, but over the years big-box book joints ran many of these utopias out of town.) The one I’m thinking about was decorated in rich colors (purple and royal blue) and fabrics (velvet and silk), offering oversized tapestry furniture with tufting and fringe. Roses (or Gerbera daisies) bloomed in a vase on the counter. Incense burned in a brass plate. Calssical floated down from the ceiling. Books lined shelves and even dresser drawers left open a crack, urging visitors to explore every nook and cranny. Nobody stopped in a rush for a Starbucks on their way to work. Entire sections of books and spots to read weren’t usurped by massive displays of board games and puzzles. The focus was on books and the transformative experience of reading.

Don’t get me wrong. I know places like this have their downsides too. For one, stock is limited. But I’d like to think there’s a time and place for both types of bookstore. I’d like to think that with a little less of one a few more of the other can survive. Balance, you know?

I’m no business expert, so it may be wishful thinking that independent bookstores will have a better chance with Borders gone. I guess I’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I’d like to know where you buy most of your books. Electronically? Big-box store like Barnes & Noble? Wal-Mart/Target? Grocery store? Independent bookstore?


4 Responses to “Buh-bye, Borders. Hello, Indie Bookstores?”

  1. I too love Indie bookstores. My favorite was a place no longer in existence, called The Either Or Bookstore. It rambled down the curved hill of Pier Ave. toward the Hermosa Beach Pier. It was a jumble of rooms that started slightly up the hill and dropped down a step or two as you entered the next room…which also curved. There were large overstuffed chairs in one room, a window seat lined with pillows in another, a porch swing that hung from the ceiling in another. Yes, also the small of incense…it is the beach…and Los Angeles. Hidden nooks and crannies everywhere simply overflowing with books. If you couldn’t find it there, it seemed it didn’t exist. My favorite days to go there were rainy days. Pick up a few books to look through and sit in the window seat watching an ocean storm. Yep, I too would like to see the resurgence of such stores….even though I love my new Kindle!!

  2. taristhread Says:

    Hi Elley, did you see this?


    retweeted by Tattered Cover Bookstore….there’s hope!

    • Thanks for posting this. Very interesting. My little city block had an indie bookstore a couple decades ago. I hope something similar comes back. We lost our Borders a few months ago. B&N is still near the mall, but it’s the mall. Battling traffic to go there makes matters worse.


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