Thursday, September 1, 2011

Books Without Borders

I have seen the future without Borders, and it is Target.

And it makes me wish to weep.

David and I stopped by Borders the other day to indulge yet again (and to say "hello" to our future shelves).  We had a stack of goods we literally could not carry without each others' help.  Between coffee table books on music and guitars, a Jackie Chan video, Game of Thrones, The Anubis Gates, another Flavia mystery novel and a few novels and DVDs that will be gifts, our arms were full.

While we were there, I could not find some of the more recently published books, but I suspect most of the newer items had been snatched up quickly.  There was a biography I had tried for the better part of a year to pick up at the bookstore, but was again unsuccessful.

Today I encountered a book trailer that made me want to race out and purchase said book (thanks to Harper Collins Canada).  I knew I wasn't going to risk another encounter at Borders so soon — it's too exhausting to see such a loved bookstore in such disarray and disrepair.  I was going to Target, anyway, so figured I'd try my luck there.

"No luck" doesn't quite describe it.

There was room for for 12 books in the young adult "section."  Three slots were taken up by the first Harry Potter novel.  The top row was all Rick Riordian novels.  The rest of the collection was composed of whatever teen vampire romances are hot to teens.

I wanted to cry.

I knew I'd miss Borders, but I didn't realize the vast wasteland that awaited me.

It is in part my own fault.  I have a thing about Barnes & Noble: I don't like paying for a "club" discount.  I'm not a member of those big box warehouse stores for that very reason (well, that, and  refusing to buy a vat of mayonnaise I'l never finish, if only because I can't reach the bottom of the 10-gallon barrel to finish it off).  Paying what is a comparatively paltry sum to receive reasonable discounts shouldn't rub me the wrong way, but it does.

I'll be a member of a free discount club to the end of time, and they are free to mine my purchasing history for their marketing programs; it's only fair to help them sell me what I may (or may not) need.  For that information alone I deserve a discount, and I'm glad to take it at what seems like no additional cost to me.  (I am not foolish enough to think anything is truly free.)  However, to pay for that same "privilege" offends me.  Both I and the company in question will benefit, them more so because they can use my data to further their sales, market to their customers and determine their inventory.  I just want to buy at the "member" discount without having to pay for it up front.

However, if Target makes me weep over books again, I might give up bookstores altogether.  Amazon serves me well, gives me recommendations, sells to me at a reasonable price and delivers it at lightning-quick speed — and I can shop in my underpants.  (Sorry for the visual — and no, pouring bleach in your eyes will not help.)  I love my library and have been voraciously consuming those books at an alarming rate.  I just want to hand a book I love to a friend, who then can love it, too — and the library frowns on that.

I cannot go cold turkey, so I'll still hit up my thrift stores and used bookstores, which are my true passion.  However, as it stands, sparkling new bookstores may be a thing of the past.

Hopefully Barnes & Noble will come around to my way of thinking, especially since the competition is shrinking (for the time being).  If not, I'll have to totally change my book buying habits which, while a benefit to my wallet, will take its toll on my bookish soul. 

Tell me: what are you doing for your books these days, now that the Age of Borders is waning?

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