A mash note to Borders. Yes, Borders!
Is it unseemly for a book blogger to bemoan the loss of a book chain?
It was mighty emotional for me to walk into a Borders bookstore the other day and remember the hours I'd spent in this welcoming and well-lit place, browsing for CDs (whatever they were), reading magazines for free, and glaring at the annoying comfy-chair hogs who prevented me from hogging the comfy chairs.
Now, the store has become just a shadow of its former self, full of price tags on everything from the section signs that once hung from the ceiling to the bookshelves themselves.
"Dear sweet Borders," I declared. "Could this be the end of our long-term open relationship? Don't go! Don't… Hey, does that sign really say 90 percent off? Gangway! Outta my way, lady! Oh sorry, Mom."
You may be shaking your head right now, appalled that an upstanding book blogger like myself would bemoan the loss of Borders, which has been closing dozens of its stores and may be on its way to collapse. Like you, I'm supposed to prefer independent bookstores and roll my eyes at the chain outlets with their coffee bars, 40 percent discounts, and clean restrooms.
But Borders has always had my number, often wooing me away from the library, Barnes & Noble, and the used bookstore whose carpet hasn't been cleaned since the Taft Administration.
I like poring over the new books on the tables by the entrance, even though publishers probably paid a bundle to put them there. I appreciate the computers that allow me to look up books without having to ask anyone for help. (Does the world need to know I'm trying to track down "The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification"? And I love being able to sit and read a book before deciding whether to buy it.
So here's hoping Borders can survive. If it goes under, I'm definitely going to try and snag one of those leftover comfy chairs. It'll be the perfect thing to sit in when I'm browsing through Amazon.com, and I can use a mirror to glare at my own comfy-chair-hogging self.
Randy Dotinga is a regular contributor to the Monitor's book section.