Goodbye Borders

Not that it really comes as a surprise, but Borders announced its Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and plans to close 30% of its stores.  The digital age has already taken its toll on the record industry, and now bookstores are beginning to feel the heat as well, since e-books the literary equivalent of an Ipod.

Before I moving to Baltimore, Borders was essentially the only place where there was a large selection of CDS.  It was either that or Best Buy.  But Best Buy didn’t have the back catalogues of most of their artists, and they also only displayed artists with track records of moving copies.  It was also one of the few places that I was allowed to drive to by myself when I was in high school.

I would spend hours at a time just browsing through the CDs making mental notes of which artists I needed to eventually check out.  Borders was also one of the first places I remember that had a listening station for new CDs.  Usually the description of the album was off-base, but at least you were able to actually hear what you were about to purchase.  Many of my favorite albums were purchased from Borders – London Calling, Sticky FingersZiggy StardustRaw Power, several Pearl Jam bootlegs, etc.  The bargain bin (selected albums were $7.99) was also my first introduction to Sam Cooke and Ray Charles.

When I wasn’t looking at the CDs, I would wander off to the music book section and read through many of the rock encyclopedias, and memoirs.  If you’re ever wondering where most of my knowledge of artists comes from – it’s a direct result of that.  At the time, I desperately wanted to be a rock critic (still do actually) and I figured the best way to do that would be to study up on the subject.  Before I listened to Iggy Pop, I knew of his affection for peanut-butter on stage.  It was in a Borders’ chair that I first learned about the legend of Robert Johnson making a deal with the Devil at the crossroads.

Because I was there so often, many of the cashiers knew me.  When I went to purchase a copy of The Velvet Undeground & Nico , the girl at the counter seemed genuinely interested – she had never heard of them before. When I explained to her what they sounded like – shocker – she didn’t seem as interested in anymore.

Since moving to Baltimore, I hardly ever go to Borders – Soundgarden is about two miles away from my apartment – but whenever I go back to visit my parents I almost always stop by.  The last few times I’ve been have been extremely depressing.  The CD section has all but been taken away.  There are no more back catalogues of artists – shit, even Target has a better selection of artists and albums these days.

I haven’t listened to it in a while, but perhaps I’ll break out my copy of Quadrophenia tonight.  It was one of the first albums I purchased at Borders.


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8 responses to “Goodbye Borders

  1. unknownnarrator

    I love Borders, they have an excellent selection of books, and before, had a great variety of music as well. I could always find rare copies of Pearl Jam and Queen CDs there. I’m extremely sad that the “ebook” garbage will be closing more bookstores.

    • You definitely don’t get the same experience reading an ebook. I like the fact that you can physically see how many pages you’ve read in a day, and there’s nothing like turning over the final page of a book when you finish it.

      • toomanyconverse

        I could not agree more. There is just something different about reading a physical book. Better in my opinion. I also like having physical CD’s as opposed to digital music. It’s hard for me to find a store that has a good selection but also reasonable prices though… Target’s alright with prices but they only have about half of the CD’s that I want.

  2. Pingback: without borders | carey farrell

  3. Sean

    I agree. I do read on my iPad, but usually that is for class assignments (textbooks, articles). Pleasure reading, no. A few reasons, I think: 1. Traditional books (used) can be obtained cheaper (or free) 2. Physical nature of books 3. Very difficult to sift through ebooks to find good reads (I miss the browsing).

    Newspapers, on the other hand, I do not miss. Haven’t read (or had a subscription to one) since 2006. All news better and faster on the web.

    • For browsing and such the Ipad is great. I’m not sure if I agree with you about newspapers though. I still like drinking a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper in the morning though there are only a few good ones left.

  4. Ha! My sister lives in Frederick! It’s funny how mentally I always think the people living up in the NE have it easier, since easy access to music is always assumed. ‘Cuz you always have big cities close by, right?

    Little did I realize just how lucky I was to have an independent record store (TJ’s Records) in my own small, hole-in-the-wall town (Port Charlotte, FL). Not that his selection was great, but after reading all those glorious music dictionaries you talked about, you could order the albums from him. Sure, he’d give you shit for it, “The MC5? Why don’t you ever buy albums people would want to buy?” But eventually he came to accept me and my friends.

    (I still think the only reason his Used CD bins would occasionally have Melvins and Naked City records was ‘cuz he knew we’d buy them. Which we did.)

    • Your sister lives in Frederick? Too funny. Well, the NE does have its advantages music-wise for sure. I’ve traveled to many different cities over the years for various shows. Philly is less than 2 hours, and NY is about 5 – so those are entirely do-able. I didn’t really check out any independent music stores until I moved to Baltimore and now almost of all my music shop is exclusive to those. I swear whenever I’m in Soundgarden, somebody always asks me for help. It’s hilarious.

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