I’m sad today.
I’m not sad because the closing of Borders bookstores represents a seachange in publishing, which it most definitely does. I’m not sad because it means that digital books and online booksellers have grown big enough to warrant the closing of a chain bookseller that seemed like it would be around for an age. Indeed, I’m an eReader myself and, as a writer, I’m kindof psyched to be living in such an awesome time–a time that is going to bring new formats, new possibilities, and new excitements.
But I am sad because Borders holds a special place in my heart.
You see, when I was 16, I got my first summer job. The very best job a teenager with an obsession with romance novels and a caffeine addiction could get. I worked in the cafe at Borders in the Garden City mall in Cranston, RI. Behind that counter, when I wasn’t serving coffee and pastries, I read. I read like crazy. I read On the Road and Lord Byron and every Jane Austen novel. I read Bridget Jones’s Diary and every bit of chicklit I could get my hands on (as it was the age of Chicklit when I worked there). I read Edna St. Vincent Millay and Naked Lunch. And I read romance novels. Like. Mad.
As I read about the closing of the final 399 Borders stores (including the one in Garden City), I’m thinking about the quiet times in the store…late nights, when we would turn up the music on the loudspeakers and go through the calming, repetitive process of closing the store. Reshelving books, cleaning out the coffee pots, watering plants, cashing out, washing down tables and mopping floors before we’d all leave together, a small band of brothers turning out the lights and walking to our cars to head home.
But not before we’d talk about what we were reading that night.
So…thanks Borders, thanks for the memories. Thanks for the best first job ever. Thanks for stocking romance and putting the section near the cafe.Thanks for the employee discount. And, most importantly, thanks for the books.