People’s nostalgia for the Borders chain confounds me. Before Borders died, book people couldn’t rag on it enough. It was eroding the landscape of small town America with its cookie cutter storefronts, it was pushing indie booksellers out of business, it was turning reading into a commodity, on and on and on. Now that it’s dead, people are nostalgic for it and I can’t help but boggle a little, especially when it’s compared favorably to online markets like Amazon. It was where they played Pokemon on Saturday mornings as kids, or it was the only bookstore in their town (my God, I wonder how that happened), or it was a meeting place for their bookish group of friends. Borders cared, Borders supported them and their community.
What people forget, or perhaps choose not to acknowledge, is that Borders was a chain, a great big gobbling business concerned with profit and keeping you in their carefully-plotted stores for as long as possible so you’d buy more stuff. This doesn’t make Borders demonic, but the chain certainly wasn’t he sainted martyr fallen to the Kindle Hydra that so many book people have made it out to be.