Bye Bye Borders…

Posted by on Jul 6, 2011 in Melbourne, Random, Shopping | 2 comments

Bye Bye Borders…

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I fell in love with Borders the very first time I stepped through the wide open doors of the Chapel St store in November 2002. I loved the mountains and valleys of books so unlike anything I had seen at my little local Dymocks or Collins. I loved the late night opening. I loved the easy access to new releases from the US. I loved that I could take a pile of magazines and books into the cafe and sip coffee while deciding what to buy. I loved the choice and selection that Borders offered. I loved that soon I could have this experience at Chadstone, Doncaster, Melbourne City, London, New York and in Asia. A home away from home. In fact when I used to get really homesick you could often find me tucked into Borders on Charring Cross Rd (reading or occasionally crying into my phone to my parents)

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And now I am heartbroken. I think so often we argue that here in Australia the price of books locally is prohibitive. I couldn’t agree more. When I lived overseas it was easy to justify grabbing the latest paperback as it was so often only a few dollars/pounds more than the cost of my coffee. Here it’s been about 4-5 times the coffee price. But the thing is it’s not just us and our exorbitant prices. It’s a global thing, I remember Borders preparing to close it’s doors in London and the states and know that it has struggled to make a profit since 2006. It doesn’t make it any easier.

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Part of me feels guilty because like so many I made the move to the e-reader last year. But if I am being honest I really haven’t purchased many books since I got home (about 2.5 years ago) with the exception of a massive splurge when Borders had 40% off about a year ago. I joined three libraries ( two public and one private) and borrowed from friends. If I really wanted something I occasionally ordered online. I have never minded paying for a book, but I found $45 for the latest Bill Bryson ridiculous. I got my beloved kindle 9 months ago and I have added 152 books. While some of these have been free a lot weren’t. I was and am willing to pay – Just not our prices.

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Perhaps our loss of giant bookstores will encourage or add strength to our small independent sellers, but then we return to the issues of old, no one stop shop for when you need a book but are not sure what and nowhere that allows you to read in store or over a coffee (I have been told a number of times in smaller independents to buy before I try – oops). I truly believe the loss of Borders is worse here in Australia than when I was overseas. We don’t have Barnes and Noble (think Borders but with staff who love to read and lots of wooden shelves) or Foyles or Waterstones providing alternatives. don’t have Collins or A&R anymore. We don’t even have our own Amazon for cheap next day delivery – although we do have Borders on line. It’s just not what made them special.

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Anyway this post isn’t a rant (well I promise it wasn’t meant to be) at the Australian book industry but a chance to say Good Bye as the Melbourne Central Store, my local, closes it’s doors in two days. Walking in to see giant % off signs everywhere, piled up empty furniture and ransacked book shelves was terribly sad, and amongst the few shoppers rubbing their hands with glee at the bargains were many a sad and reverent face.

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Dearest Borders, thank you for providing me with adventures, romance, travel to new places, a safe haven, laughter, recent magazines from the US, a huge selection of books on just about everything, nearly every novel I purchased during uni (and that was rather a lot), stationery, the perfect place to meet friends and an escape. I don’t know what I will do without you.

The Pics
Borders Melbourne Central, Wednesday 6th July 2011
Books – $4 each
Audio Book – $3
Bags – $0.80 each

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2 Comments

  1. It makes me so sad to see these bookstores go – I remember spending so much of my time esp in the Melb Central store in mu university days – grabbing a coffee and blueberry bagel at Gloria Jeans and settling down with a few magazines.

    It was my go to for buying the latest books, gifts (they have really nice stationary there too) and general browsing. I am still old-school in the way I love the physical aspect of reading a book – I have many well-worn copies of my favourites at home. They tell me more than just the story in the book that they are part of me.

    I understand the lure of buying online (and I do sometimes when I can’t find titles here or they are significantly more expensive), but I mourn the loss of bookstores like these. I really do hope that the smaller ones can survive and I am hoping as long as there are book lovers, they will remain :)

    • I think they will – it’s just so sad it’s such a tough time for the book industry here in Aus. Am always glad to meet another lover of books.

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