February 16th, 2011 / 3:02 pm

Big money! Big money! Big money!

Well, our favorite big-bad-wolf-bookstore Border’s spun the wheel, and now, they’re filing for bankruptcy.

What does this mean? Does it matter?



  1. M. Kitchell

      I worked at Borders for 2 years, 2 years ago. If there has ever been anything that has proved to me that “reading is not inherently a ‘better’ activity to be doing than watching tv/playing videogames/fucking around on the internet,” it has been working at Borders.

  2. Paul Cunningham

      While I’m not a huge fan of the Kindle or the Nook–I’m also not a fan of corrupt publishing giants that dictate the smallness of all others. I think Lily’s title and accompanying photograph are incredibly accurate. Books and electronic books are a business–it all comes down to money. (WOO CAPITALISM!!!)

      Recently, I needed to purchase a copy of A Clockwork Orange for a friend. First, I checked at a nearby Barnes & Noble. Price: $16. After deciding I did not want to pay $16 for A Clockwork Orange, I checked at a Borders. Price: $16. Later, I found a copy of A Clockwork Orange at Target. I believe the price was $12 at Target. Ultimately, I ended up checking Amazon when I got home. I found a copy of A Clockwork Orange for $3.99.

      Additionally, the Kindle price for A Clockwork Orange is $16. Who the HELL wants to pay $16 for the Gameboy version of a literary classic?

      I’ve never much cared for Borders. In comparison to Barnes & Noble, I’ve never really seen much of a difference in regard to prices. The only things you’re going to find on sale at either super-bookstore are “The Works of Salvador Dali,” “The Foxtrot Collection,” “Glenn Beck’s Arguing with Idiots,” and maybe, just maybe, “Feng Shui: The Complete How-To Guide.”

  3. NLY

      In reality all this talk of the ‘death of the bookstore’ has always seemed strange to me because the really good smaller bookshops all seem just fine. Their place in the world hasn’t really changed. The geography and toponymy of book buying has altered significantly, as new methods and modes introduce themselves and shift market shares, but: I have a Kindle, and I buy physical books, I shop at Amazon, and I frequent bookstores.
      Borders didn’t just suffer because of ebooks or something, they’ve been expanding rapidly and riskily for years in the Eastern half of the States (which was all B&N territory), and elsewhere in the world, and now they’re limping out of Russia. Well, so be it.

  4. Whatisinevidence

      That’s not entirely true. The remainder section of big book stores is usually good for one or two finds; the last time I was in a B&N I found remaindered copies of a David Markson book and a Barthes reader, both hardcovers published by B&N. I love shopping the remainder shelves of corporate bookstores.

  5. Whatisinevidence

      A big part of Borders’ problems was the rapid decline of music CD sales.

  6. karl taro

      seriously? small book stores all seem fine? they have been closing at a rapid rate everywhere I checked. I think publishers are making a mistake with ebooks. digitizing your data is always a bad idea if you are in the content business. see music, movies, etc. books are going to be free in just a few years. it is inevitable. and sucks for writers.

  7. drew kalbach

      what was it exactly about borders that proved it? just genuinely curious, as that’s something i often think about. i mean, is it better to read a fantasy novel or to play a videogame? can you even compare the two things? i don’t know.

  8. M. Kitchell

      oh, it’s just the quickest way to smash any pretense that one might suffer that people who read are ‘more intelligent’ or whatever than people who don’t. because, yeah, most people are reading absolute shit, and while it might be comparing apples to oranges, i can guarantee that watching all of “six feet under” or something is more ‘intellectually engaging’ than reading the latest best-seller. knahmean? if you’re reading shit you may as well be watching shit, is my point.

  9. M. Kitchell

      free art everywhere doesn’t sound like it would suck to me, it sounds utopian

  10. NLY

      That’s not really what I said, that they ‘all seem fine’. The really good ones, sure. A lot of the bookstores I go to have been around for 15-25 years, or longer, and are doing fine, because they offer a different kind of service, and they do a good job of it. Like I also said, the market shares are shifting. As the market changes, what it means to be ‘competitive’ evolves. Do I think the ‘book store’, in general, is the same as it was twenty years ago? Certainly not.

  11. Jhon Baker

      who will create this free art on the level it is being created now? Would that be subsidized, if so, who would control the content?

  12. stephen
  13. stephen

      possibly food for thought, as they say… i like steve’s ideas

      my own position, if i have one, is something like models of artistic creation and distribution will continue to change, and i’m fine with that. making your living as a writer and solely as a writer sounds pretty alright to me but seems like a selfish romantic ideal, to some degree. any sense of entitlement regarding the “need” to protect one’s ability to make a living solely from writing or to protect what one perceives as the notable creative class of one’s time’s ability to make a living solely from writing seems kind of silly to me, particularly since the value of anyone’s writing is wildly subjective, even with degrees of consensus. no one is owed anything. if one creates art that excites people ~maybe~ he or she will make a little or a lot of money from it, although the chances of that go way up if the person is willing to promote the art and pursue more exciting means of gaining recognition or an audience for one’s art than is common in the literary world, which I’d say is more prudish, self-deluded, conservative, and boring overall in its artist culture, self-proclaimed and/or perceived societal/cultural status, and in its imaginary rules system than other sectors of art, such as music, film, and visual art.

      i don’t believe in gatekeepers for literature. i do believe in leadership, inspiration, and community.

  14. stephen
  15. dole

      if people take some of that Borders money to independent sellers or creators, it will be good for those parties to some extent. My guess is most of that money will go to Amazon. In my case I can’t make impulse buys after work at the now-closed Borders across the street, so that’s good.

  16. Frank Tas

      Man, I wrote my first book in Borders. I’d get home from my job at Binder and Binder, eat dinner with my parents, drive there, get a good 500-1000 words down in my shitty green notebook, then go to the King Kullen in the same shopping center, buy two tallboys of Keystone Ice, get home and drink them while my parents were asleep. Talk about losing a landmark of your personal history.

  17. Sean

      Cool anecdote

      “two tallboys of Keystone Ice, get home and drink them while my parents were asleep.”

      book title?

  18. Frank Tas

      Not a bad book title, but not my style (I named the first book The Invectives, long story (not really)). Besides, my contemporary musician friend already wrote a song called “Keystone and a Headache,” so I couldn’t honorably make any reference to Keystone in any of my own titles. I can only drink it.

  19. lorian

      there are a lot of good bookstores / ‘other options’ in san francisco, more so than, say, durham, north carolina. but the borders in union square is one of the best bookstores i’ve ever been to, and i say this maybe because someone i love works there and i have friends who work there, but i say this also because they’ve got grace krilanovich on their fucken ‘staff picks’ wall, and you can buy tao lin and the mcsweeney’s san francisco panorama along with yr dulce de leche mocha focha socha drink thing. i never thought i’d give two shits about the beer belly that is borders inc., but man, today feels like a sad day.

  20. Canadian Hunk

      Watson has been playing me for years.

  21. A. Farkas

      It’s tough for me. Border’s was the first bookstore I went to that actually had a fairly decent selection. Yes, later on I found out about Half Price Books and then more independent bookstores and then used bookstores (like McKay’s and the Book Eddy in Knoxville), but Border’s was the place where I could go in West Akron that had a wide selection (compared to the other bookstores I knew of at the time). I remember going in to just be around all the books I wanted to own.

  22. letters journal

      Will there be a way to get a lot of cheap books out of this bankruptcy?

  23. Richard Thomas

      hey now, don’t call SFU shit, my man :-)

  24. M. Kitchell

      oh, yeah, i mean it’s totally not, that’s my point! there’s a lot of fantastic tv shows/movies/video games, etc–just often at borders there were some fools who held onto some pretense who just because they were reading (reading total shit) they were somehow “above” people who preferred television, etc

  25. Richard Thomas

      if the money that was going to Borders goes to independent bookstores, then maybe this is a good thing for books (obviously not for the people that worked at Borders, though) but like people have said, it’ll probably go to Amazon, filling the belly of the beast, a creature i sadly pet way too often

      i’m going to a bookstore benefit in STL on 3/10 to help a struggling store there that may go under (reading with the esteemed Kyle Minor as well) and it’s sad, you want to help them, but i think “bookstores” are going to have to adapt – coffee, beer, food, music, printing, tshirts, whatever sells, making books a PART of it, pair that with events, make them destinations, printing presses, selling journals and chapbooks, more of an artists co-op, because really, who can compete with Amazon or Ebay when they have Clockwork for $1.99 or .05 plus $2 shipping – nobody

  26. Richard Thomas

      alright, was getting worried there brother – i hear what you’re saying