Just before Christmas I blogged here about the closing of the Borders Bookstore here in my home community of Bloomington, Indiana. Friday, January 7, 2011 was the store’s final day of operation. I visited it for the last time on Wednesday, January 5th and snapped a few pictures. Even for those of you who may never have set foot in this particular Borders location, you can tell that it was barely a shell of what it once was.
The montage of pictures above should give you a sense of what I mean by a “shell.” The image appearing there on the bottom-left is, incidentally, of what used to be the children’s section, which is a far cry from how it used to look. In fact, I have a quite vivid memory from the time I was researching The Late Age of Print. I hung out there practically all night on the evening of June 20th, 2003 in anticipation of the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Back then it was teeming with books, kids, caregivers, and energy. Not so much now.
These two close-ups illustrate the scope of the sell-off. It’s definitely an “everything must go” situation but more, no doubt a result of the chain’s economic woes, which extend far beyond this particular branch. The picture on the right shows a bookshelf that’s been transformed into a display for cleaning agents — yes, cleaning agents — that are being sold off along with the store’s remaining inventory of books, DVDs, etc. (Another display nearby held items from the café, including the mixes the baristas would use to make fancy drinks.) Speaking of books, the vast majority of titles left were either category fiction (romances, sci-fi, etc.) or books by/about celebrities. Note the unusually large stock of biographies of American Idol’s Sanjaya Malakar in the upper right-hand corner of the image at left. It was, in other words, pretty much the bottom of the barrel by the time I got there. Based on the uniformity of the inventory, I ‘d guess that most of the really desirable books had been carted off and redistributed to other Borders stores.
This final image shows a computer terminal located on what used to be the customer service counter. Instead of facing the customer service agent, it had been turned around to face the customers, as if to greet us as we entered the store on its final days. The display read, “Your Favorite Book Store. Now Digital.” I guess we know how Borders is imagining its future — assuming, of course, that it has one.