Editorial: A sign of change, an end of an age

by Megan Bristow

Last week, I received an email that normally I would have sent straight to the trash folder without even a second glance. However, on this particular day, I opened it accidentally. The headline “Going out of business: The final week” caught my eye. It even caused me to visit the company’s website.

I soon founded myself perusing through books, magazines, and CDs. My mind continued to dream of the endless possibilities of the new worlds I could explore through these new media paths.

However, the realization that class would be starting soon interrupted my paradise. I closed the website, an action that also signified saying goodbye to a business. I was left only with the flood of memories of my childhood, trips to the mall and the discovery of new avenues of learning and adventure.

I had textbooks to read, lectures to listen to, and notebooks to fill with notes but oh how it made me long to run to the bookstore and pick out an interesting new story to read. I would have gone back home, curled up under the blankets and lost myself in the characters’ world. The biting reality of the current situation came back, however, and so I said goodbye to an old friend without even a farewell gift of a return to the activities that had consumed so much of my time and pleasure in years past.

As for the unveiling of the company that I am talking about, I am referring to Borders Bookstores who by the time of this publication will have closed its doors for the final time.

Not only does this business closure represent an end of a pastime but it also indicates an introduction to the continuation of the changing times of technology.

For now, the online portion of Borders Bookstores will remain open for business. However, the company is in the liquidation process so the future of the website is uknown.

The days are gone when readers made a trip to the local bookstore to read the latest best-selling novel. Today, the same book is available online, by download on your tablet or mobile reader or even to your smart phone.

My speculations on this event include questions as to why other bookstores are prospering while this one is closing. Perhaps it was because book distributors like the online store of Amazon or Barnes and Noble released their digital reader much earlier than Borders. However, with the introduction of the tablet and other such devices that make reading books on-the-go so easy it is difficult to decipher whether the individual store’s reading devices such as the Nook will make that much of a lasting difference.

It reminds me of the scenario presented in the movie, “You’ve Got Mail.” Aside from the heartwarming romance in the movie, Meg Ryan portrays a small bookstore owner struggling to save her store to the industry leader Fox Books. Only in today’s scenario, the industry leaders are falling prey to the internet takeover.

Even though I will fondly remember my trips to Borders, I also know that it would be hard for me to trade the convenience of downloading an e-book or using iBooks to read new content for these memories.

While the need for reading material, will always exist the form in which shoppers get it will continue to change as technology progresses. Some companies may be able to stay afloat by keeping up with current trends.

As for Borders, it looks like their doors will continue to close. Only the future will determine whether consumers will support retail chain stores similar to Borders such as Barnes and Noble and let them survive amidst the Fox Books of technology.

Image: In this Sept. 9, 2011 photo, the bookshelves sit empty at the Borders bookstore at Penn Plaza in Midtown Manhattan in New York. (AP Photo/Aaron Jackson) Copyright 2011, The Associated Press

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