Borders and my sad walk through the store.

I literally jumped for joy when I learned that the Borders closest to me (40 minutes away) would stay open. Barnes and Nobles is 50 minutes away. So I don’t have a lot of options with a big selection.

One of my favorite mom-and-daughter dates is lunch at Panera’s and then browsing in Borders, because both my daughter and I love books. We eat and chat while sipping our drinks, both excited about the next stop. We enter Borders with a spring in our step and a grin on our face, our fingers itching to pick up books and smell the pages and read the back flaps.  #iknowyoucanrelate

Except this last time was, um, er different. And we’ll go back but…not as often. There was a dramatically smaller selection of books – and more gimmicky gifts. Most of the books I wanted to buy, they didn’t carry. #verysadday

I did purchase 2 books to support bookstores. But I can’t justify spending 17 or 18 dollars on a book when I can buy it for 10 online.

What do you think? Will bookstores truly be irrelevant one day? Someday, will only lead titles and best sellers make into bookstores? At that point, what will be the difference between the self published and the traditionally published? We’ll all have to sell ourselves and our books.  #thoughtmuchaboutsocialmedia?

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42 Responses to Borders and my sad walk through the store.

  1. Carole Anne Carr April 2, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    With today’s young people only interested in instant access, I fear the worst. I’ve even had two of my books added as eBooks and feel like a traitor. Carole.

  2. Amie Kaufman April 2, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    I think one of the big problems is that you often do pay a lot more for a book you take off the shelf in a bookstore, and it can be hard to justify. It’s cheaper to buy them online or on my Kindle–I try and split my purchases between my local independent bookstore and online, to support as much as I can. I agree my local Borders does seem to have more gimmicky gifts these days.

    • Laura April 2, 2011 at 11:28 am #

      Carole – Don’t feel like a traitor. If having your book as an ebook helps the sales in anyway then it’s a must.

      Amie – I don’t mind making the larger purchase because I want stores to stay open, but I can’t make all my purchases there! As writers, we have to embrace the change.

  3. anne gallagher April 2, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    This is what I think, (I’ve given this a lot of thought.) I think eventually, say, 10 years from now, everything will be published in e-form. Except the classics, and boring school books and library books for those of us who can’t afford e-readers. So say, only 10k copies will be made for the libraries, and that’s even if the libraries want it. (They have budgets too.)

    I think everything will be electronic UNLESS you go to a bookstore and specifically REQUEST the book be made in book form and then they’ll ship it to you. Kind of reverse what it is right now.

    But that’s only my opinion. Secretly I’m hoping all the e-devices morph into televisions and people will want to buy shows instead of books and books will go back to being made and on shelves.

    Sorry, I’ve had very little caffeine as yet.

  4. Christina April 2, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    Our local Borders isn’t closing yet, but it isn’t my first stop for books. The Borders here is not very supportive of local authors so my author friends and I venture into Indie stores.

    Indie book stores are becoming extinct in many parts of the U.S, but we are fortunate enough to have one here in Mystic, CT that is still thriving. They sell my books, I buy books from them, and I recommend books from time to time. We have a loving, win/win relationship; I keep my fingers crossed that their doors remain open for years to come.

  5. Kristin Gray April 2, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    Our Borders closed, and our B&N is looking more and more like a toy store. 🙁 I really hope our fabulous indie makes it! (They don’t carry a lot, either, but are always willing to order and research…)

    And ditto on Panera. <3

  6. Andrea April 2, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    Laura, my chain bookstore actually has a pretty good selection of YA books, but it’s the picture book section that’s looking sad. Still, there are books I’ve heard about that I can only get online.

    My library is continuing to increase its selection of e-books. I would assume that eventually the cost of e-readers would drop enough so that more people would get them (like iPods, T.V.s, etc).

    Hmmm. A world with no paper sounds like an interesting setting for a novel.

  7. Alex J Cavanaugh April 2, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    I think small independents who diversify will survive, but most of the chains will be online.

  8. India Drummond April 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    That is sad… and I can relate. I live in a small village in Scotland. Our nearest bookstores are only about 10 miles away, but honestly they aren’t great. I can never find what I want, and ordering from them takes longer than ordering from amazon.

    And now that I have my Kindle, I really don’t go into book stores anymore. I miss it. Sort of. But I ADORE my Kindle, so it’s sort of like thinking about your old rumpled boyfriend when you have a new, hot, studly boyfriend.

    Love the blog, by the way. Second day of the challenge, and I’ve subscribed. Great posts.

  9. Eileen Astels April 2, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    I’ve wondered the same questions, more so now that hubby bought a Kindle. It makes me sad to think that one day book stores will be a memory of the past, but I fear it might very well be. I don’t think books in print will ever be totally gone, but perhaps they’ll only be found in the Walmarts, Costco’s, etc. that retail a multitude of products, and of course, online.

  10. Joyce April 2, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    I think we may see a rebirth of small indie bookstores that have specialties. At least I hope so. The large book-box-stores are cold and uninviting.

  11. Susan Kaye Quinn April 2, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    I’m spoiled with several bookstores within a 20 min drive (I live near the Big City), but I had a similar experience. Over the years, I’ve gradually favored one B&N, simply because they had better selection. Then at Christmas, with my yards-long-list of books to buy, I couldn’t find more than half of the books I wanted! These weren’t obscure titles. These were major publishers, debut novels, nowhere to be seen in the bookstore.

    Huh? #verysadday

    The bookstore lady kept insisting she could order the book and I could come back for it. Yes, it’s not an expedition to go to the bookstore, but why would I do that?. My B&N membership gives me free shipping. If I was going to order them, I would just go online and have it sent to my house.

    I wanted to support the bookstore (and still bought a crazy amount of books that day), but if they don’t carry books, it’s going to be harder to do.

    • Laura April 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

      So writers and friends, the question begs to be asked. Or not even asked. The writing is on the wall. If we want to succeed then after writing that excellent book, social media is going to play a huge role. Do you agree? I think it already has made the difference. I don’t think certain titles would have made the best seller list the first week out without the author’s high traffic blogs. And there’s nothing wrong with that!

  12. Kerrie April 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    I’m an avid book reader. I bought an ereader just after xmas and read a few books on there. I seemed to like it. But then….I missed the feel of the book in my hand.

    Unfortunately, I think books may eventually hit the time where ‘real’ books will be a thing of history and will be digital only. It will be just the same as music is becoming. Just walk into any Best Buy store and notice the very small section of CDs. Hard copies are becoming a thing of the past. Everything will be digital. I’m not sure if that is good or bad. I swing both ways depending on what I’m thinking about.

    I’m a new follower!

  13. Laura Marcella April 2, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    I wouldn’t be surprised if one day, maybe not in our lifetime but sometime in the future, stores become obsolete and only online shopping is the way to go.

    There was a Borders Express a minute from me, and then three big Borders only 30 minutes away from me in various directions. All have closed. Now there’s only a Barnes & Noble 30 minutes from me. It’s very sad. Plus all those people losing their jobs is heartbreaking.

  14. Girl Friday April 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    I don’t know what they’re like in the US, but I never liked Borders in the UK, they were always full of a lot of crappy non-book items. Now if anything happened to Waterstones I would cry 🙁

  15. Kris April 2, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    I think people will always read. It might be online. It might be on an e-reader. It might be a book. Twenty years ago I bought my first CD. My most recent music purchases are digital. I still love my music. I think it will be the same with books. As long as people keep reading, they will need stories. And while I long to hold my own book in my hand with a hard cover, I recognize that other formats might be an option when it finally sells. (notice I said when, not if. 🙂 )

  16. Creepy Query Girl April 2, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    I don’t think book stores will become obsolete. They’re fun! People will continue to go to them for browsing but yeah, since living in france I buy almost all of my books online. And I intend on getting an ereader asap. Even though I’d love to see my book in print, knowing that people are enjoying my stories in whatever format would make me happy.

  17. Kris Yankee April 2, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    When my agent told me that I should seriously consider self-publishing one of my books while we wait for the traditional publishers to get back to us on my submissions, I cringed. “Really?” I asked her. And then we spent an hour talking about the state of the industry because of what is happening at Borders. I don’t think that physical books will go away entirely, but my fear is that they will become the exception, rather than the rule. But what the masses who can’t afford ereaders, what about the libraries that can’t afford to accumulate hundreds of ereaders to support the patrons? I feel like I started 10 years to late.

    • Laura April 2, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

      I don’t think the complete switch over will happen until enough people have ereaders. I mean most kids and adults have an mp3 players of some sort. I think it will just take time.

  18. Laura Josephsen April 2, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    I have no idea how things will change…I mean, things change all the time in the publishing/book industry. I’m jut trying to keep up.

    I will be honest: it has been a long, long, LONG time since I went to an actual bookstore to purchase a book. I do most of my shopping on Amazon. I just do not have a lot of time to go browsing bookstores, and if I decide to purchase a book, it’s usually easier (and cheaper) to seek it out on Amazon.

    But years ago (before being married and having kids) I spent tons of time at the local bookstore, picking out a new book here or there and adding it to my bookshelf at home. Of course, that was before Amazon, too (or before I knew of it).

  19. Corey J. Popp April 2, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    The declining prices of eReaders and the increased sales of iPads and other tablets can only mean the printed book will inevitably meet the same end as the vinyl record and the VHS tape.

    “Time stands still for no man” nor no book.

    Someday the only difference between self-published and traditional publishing will be the publisher’s name and marketing behind the release.

    It won’t be long before an iBooks does for authors what iTunes did for musicians.

  20. Marcia April 2, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    “I don’t think certain titles would have made the best seller list the first week out without the author’s high traffic blogs. And there’s nothing wrong with that!”

    Completely agree.

  21. Andrea Vlahakis April 2, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    Great post, Laura. Our Borders closed, and I wasn’t all that upset because every time I went in, I could never find what I wanted. The children’s department was a joke with mostly toys and tie-ins. The only thing I’ll miss is their magazine selection.

    When Borders came in, we lost our last indie in town. There’s now only one bookstore, an indie, twenty minutes away. I did read an article in the NYT about now with the big box bookstores closing, it’s ripe for local, indie bookstores to come in. Sounds idealistic to me when you factor in the sky-high rents and stock needed. I really don’t see how a bookstore can compete with Amazon.

    Will the book disappear? I don’t think so, but I wouldn’t be surprised if books went to POD.

  22. Terry Lynn Johnson April 2, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

    I do hope they survive! But regardless if you can purchase books on line, I still think there will always be a need for the store. Just like I purchase books on my Kobo reader, but I also purchase actual books.

  23. Jennifer Hoffine April 2, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    I was hoping that Borders closing meant that the large-selection-book-buying public could only support one big store and that would be B&N. Personally, I like the atmosphere of B&N better, so this didn’t bother me…but all this talk on here about bad selections even in B&N is scary.

    Things are changing. I suspect online presences and ebooks are going to play huge roles in who succeeds and doesn’t succeed in the future.

    As another writer said, I wish I’d gotten in ten years ago. It seems like it would be much easier to face these changes as an already-published writer.

  24. Shelli April 2, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    I don’t know, I think that maybe the closing of big book stores could open up a niche for smaller book stores. Something like a coffee house where you can browse and read and exchange books and hold book clubs. Some brave entrepreneur could step in and fill the void. I’d be very sad if all the book stores just went away.

    • Laura April 2, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

      Yes, as an established author it would be much easier to step away and self publish. Much harder for some of us.

  25. Maria Toth April 2, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    Ebooks was a topic of discussion at critique today. Several writers are entertaining the thought of publishing their novels as e-reads. After publishing two middle grade mysteries (hardback)with my co-authors, and spending almost two years learning the marketing ropes, I figure I’m ready for a new adventure! Afterall, E-ticket rides at Disneyland were always the best ones! (some may not remember paper tickets at Dland)

    As for book stores, there’ll just be fewer of them. Though, my hubby thinks book stores will become museums. Anything’s possible. One of our Carnegie libraries now houses Wild Earp family memorabilia.

    I will always love the feel of a book in my hands, turning the page, but I’m also open to change, which means riding the current and going with the flow.

    I’m a new follower, and I love your blog!

  26. Kelly Polark April 2, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    That is sad. I love taking my kids to the bookstore and to Scholastic book fairs. It is just so fun to browse and flip through the books. The kids have such a hard time choosing, etc. I hope book stores are still here to stay, even if in fewer numbers.

  27. Gail Baugniet April 2, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

    I like to equate bookstores to airline companies. Some come, some go, changes occur, but we keep on flying.

  28. Margo April 2, 2011 at 10:50 pm #



    I think Borders and Barnes and Noble will continue to diversify to survive. Local book stores will be the place to go to get that wonderful book experience – that’s my guess. #can’twaitformydaughterstobeoldenough

  29. LynNerd April 2, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

    I wonder if used book stores will become more prevalent, playing up the nostalgia angle (how sad is that?) Who knows what entrepreneurs will come up with. Perhaps a store could have a section of used books and also have a service where they can order any new books a customer wants and have it shipped directly to the customer. They could offer POD services, too. And, heck, how about a coffee nook for those who want to lounge around? It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the book industry. (By the way, a friend told me if B&N doesn’t have a book she wants, they order it for her when she’s in the store, but they ship it to her home at no extra charge).
    One thing is for sure, eBooks are here and are going to take over. People are creatures of habit, for the most part, but we have to keep up whether we want to or not.
    P.S. I do remember the ticket booklets at Disneyland. The E rides were the best and there were only two E-tickets, I believe, in the booklet. “A” rides were the lousy rides. I think there were about five A-tickets in the ticket book. And if you lost your ticket book, you got to walk around Disneyland and watch all the other people ride the rides, or else buy another ticket book!

  30. Pam April 3, 2011 at 12:37 am #

    I hope they don’t become irrelevant. I love going into a bookstore and putting my hands on the book and flipping through it before buying. At the same time, it is difficult to pay more when Amazon offers used titles for a lot less $$. E-books? No thank you. I prefer an actual book in my hands.

  31. KarenG April 3, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    I’m sad to say that I do believe bookstores are on the way out. B & N seems to stay open to sell their Nook, the huge display right there as you walk in. And it’s not just the ereaders that are doing them in, but as you say, when one can buy online cheaper and easier? I’m actually more of a library stalker than bookstore person. If libraries ever fold I will just die.

    So great to find this blog! I look forward to more of your A to Z posts.


  32. Wanda April 3, 2011 at 1:28 am #

    I sure hope brick & mortar bookstores stick around. Ordering books online is just not the same as browsing shelves in an actual store.

    The Watered Soul

  33. Brianna April 3, 2011 at 3:34 am #

    I buy online now because there are no book stores nearby, but whenever I’m home visiting, I’ll go to the bookstore with my mom. We too enjoy browsing the book stores together.

  34. Christy Evers April 3, 2011 at 3:38 am #

    I’ve wondered about the fate of bookstores . . . with my local Borders closing. There seems to be a huge ebb and flow of business. It’s hard to see the future. At one time we “hated” the megabookstore for casting a doomful shadow on independant stores. Now we stand at the graveside of the megastores and contemplate the revival of the independents and the seemingly indestructible cyber-stores. Who knows. The only absolute is that things always change.

  35. Jenny Lundquist April 3, 2011 at 6:29 am #

    I try to spread out my purchases. I buy from Amazon, and from Barnes and Nobles. I also make sure to support the local library and check out books. I really hope the bookstores stay open. A bookstore offers a space for booklovers to congregate, get some coffee, hang out. It’s just as much about the “place” as it is the services being provided. For me, anyway.

  36. Ansha Kotyk April 3, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    I have to admit with all the self-pub happenings going on right now I’ve been wondering what way the publishing industry will go. E-books are here to stay it’s just a matter of time for the tipping point to happen. As Joe Konrath stated in his conversation with Barry Eisler a book holds the same amount of e-shelf space as the top sellers unlike in brick and mortar stores where 20 or so ‘big’ books get front of the store placement and newbie authors may get one spot or none.
    So it’s an interesting time to be in the publishing industry. I don’t think it would be better 10 years ago, just different. Now I think we have more say in the path our careers take than we would have had 10 years ago. We just need to stay educated and find what will be in our own best interest as writers.

  37. Anastasia V. Pergakis April 3, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    A part of me wants to believ that print books will never go out of style. But, book stores themsevles might go away. I think having POD online will keep books in print, but everyone would have to by them online, rather than in an actual store. Then again, I might just be dreading that possibilty and thinking too hard about this! LOL Honestly, I don’t think print books will ever really go away. Just the venue at which we buy them.

  38. Dawn April 3, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    A publisher spoke to our writing group and he said he’s probably got another good 10-15 years of publishing hard copy books, but the writing is on the wall. e-books.

    It’s sad.

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