Today’s news that Borders had failed to secure a buyer and would liquidate made me sad for a lot of reasons. The first is that it’s a sad day for the book industry, but I won’t wax philosophical on that. Instead, I’d rather share why Borders was important to me, personally.
When I was a teenager and my mom would take me to the bookstore, that bookstore was always Borders. For whatever reason, she couldn’t stand Barnes & Noble (if I remember correctly, I think the phrase “Impossible to find anything, including help” was bandied about on more than one occasion), and for her, Borders was more convenient anyway. So it was always Borders. Once I started driving (and making my own money, rather than relying on hers), I too shopped exclusively at Borders. My first two jobs were both right around the corner from Borders locations (in the case of the second, Borders was in the same mall- easy for me to go on my lunch break). Then I started working in the library field, and the Borders at the mall closed, and the one on the east end of town just wasn’t convenient. And Borders and I grew apart, and I slowly got over my mother-induced B&N prejudice, and my visits to Borders became fewer and farther between as I shifted loyalties, even without meaning to.
Borders is where I developed my grown-up love of books. It’s where I discovered Jane Austen, Megan McCafferty, and Shelby Foote. It’s where I learned that contemporary fiction didn’t necessarily mean James Patterson or V. C. Andrews (I was 16; don’t judge). William Makepeace Thackeray, Charlotte Bronte, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Bram Stoker all came into my life at Borders. I had a first date there. More than one boyfriend followed me around the store, watching me browse. Birthday and Christmas presents were frequently Borders gift cards. I attended my very first author signing at the Sacramento Borders last year when Abraham Verghese came to talk about Cutting for Stone.
Borders and I may have grown apart, but it will always hold a special place in my heart. So thank you, Borders, for helping me grow as a reader. Thank you to the employees who made browsing at Borders a pleasant way to spend a day. You’ll be gone, but my wallet, bookshelves and I won’t ever forget you.