This is a big deal for me. One of my favorite places in the world is closing its doors.
The opening of Borders on island in 1993 also opened up a world of books that I would not have discovered otherwise. Because of the books I happened upon on those shelves over the years, I became the reader I am today and, by extension, the person I am today. Prior to that time, we only had a smattering of small bookstores with limited inventory, and the nearby public libraries really only stocked mainstream books and bestsellers.
Of course, since 1993, a lot has changed, and online stores and e-readers have changed the industry. People's relationships to books are changing. The paper book is dying, and I know this sounds melodramatic -- because it likely is -- but it feels like a part of me is dying, too. As a reader, my habitat is not just threatened; it will vanish by the end of the month.
I have a limited number of happy places, and one of them is the -- was the -- bookstore.
I know, I know, there are other options out there, and I am a fan of Amazon, so it is not as if I have been cut off from books altogether, but I use Amazon to buy my "sure thing" books, the ones I don't need to hold in my hands, or browse through before reading; I use it to order my obscure or specialized books, the ones that Borders doesn't stock or has trouble keeping on the shelves. So yes, I understand that in some way, giving Amazon my business has made me culpable; it has contributed to the death of Borders. However, it is not as if I have neglected my local bookstore -- trust me on that. My empty wallet and overflowing bookshelves are the proof.
In any case, it's the end of an era, and how did I mourn?
I bought a bunch of books, of course!
The art section had been raided (so much for starving artists, unless they've been spending all their money on books instead of food), but I found a few gems. I think this one was my favorite find:
here, and see some of the images that it contains. After looking through it for just a few minutes, I realized the potential this book has to revolutionize the way I journal. And mostly, it's just cool.
I also picked up a book that I've been longing to read for some time:
Clearly my love for books will not end with the closing of Borders. Amazon will come to appreciate me and my book addiction even more than it already does.
Still, I feel a little disoriented. I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes, from Elaine Scarry:
"How one walks through the world, the endless small adjustments of balance, is affected by the shifting weights of beautiful things."
Something is shifting right now, something that once gave me a sense of balance, and I think that's why the world feels a little off-kilter. I'm not one to fight progress, but this doesn't feel like progress. It just feels like an ending.