Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Death of a Salesman: Borders To Close Its Doors Permanently

In an era of e-book and iPad obsession, it’s no surprise that Borders, the nation’s second-largest bookstore chain, expects to go out of business by September. The company began its downward spiral when it declared bankruptcy in February, and on Friday it’ll begin liquidating its remaining 399 stores.

The Borders in Fairlawn closed in March 2010.
George Bilgere, director of John Carroll University’s writing program, seemed to predict this fate in "Beyond Borders," his personal essay for our Voice section back in April.

“The days when you could drift through acres of books, sipping a latte and parking yourself with a magazine in an overstuffed chair near the gas log fireplace, are coming to an end,” he wrote gloomily.

As one student told him that she downloaded her class reading assignment onto her iPad, a feeling of dread overcame Bilgere. “A year from now [the students] would all be sitting in front of me with their glowing screens, staring with pity at the old guy shuffling through his primitive pages,” he said.

While some take pride in their nifty gadgets, others recognize the timeless value of books. Dave Ferrante, owner of Visible Voice in Tremont, told Bilgere that a book — as in one made of paper — is technology in and of itself. “It doesn’t break if you drop it. It doesn’t need batteries. And anyone can get one for free from the public library.”

Is this the apocalypse for the printed book? No, but Borders’ closure does mean more than 10,000 people nationwide will lose their jobs. Only five Cleveland-area stores remain open for now: Westlake, Solon, Beachwood, Strongsville and Tower City.

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