Borders Bookshop RIP

No, that is not meant to be flippant. I have spent many hours in Borders, writing as well as browsing and drinking coffee. I took my Granddaughter to the Edinburgh shop when she was three and four, watching her as she sat with staff for readings of children’s books. She loves books. She is now ten and has just read, and understood, all of the Harry Potter series (and my own, unpublished, Keewatin). I hear that the Borders stores are now having clearance sales and have banners outside, slung across them like cheap discount shops. I will not go there, vulture-like, to pick over the stock. I also hear that the staff are remaining loyal to the end, despite the grief they are getting from a minority of customers. What timing! What a Christmas present for staff! I have also heard that one of the three Waterstones in Edinburgh might close. Time will tell if this correct or simply rumour. Big bookshops, it seems, are going the way of the dinosaurs and whether we like it or not the era of online buying / downloading is here to stay. I often browsed for music as well as books in Borders, more often than not finding and buying something I liked that I didn’t previously know about. Then they removed about three quarters of their CD displays, so I no longer bothered to browse, there wasn’t enough choice. Presumably, with the advent of easy web downloads, selling CDs became unprofitable. So will this happen (is this already happening?) with books? I used to have a shiny collection of vinyl, scratches and all. I liked reading the bumf on the sleeves, slipping the disc out (remember the way they rolled out?) and replacing it carefully after playing. Then came tape cassettes, I had a collection of those foul things. Compact discs eventually took their place, I have hundreds of them and I like them, they sit on my bookcase shelves (rather like books, actually…). But when I glance at them from the sofa I get a fleeting glimpse of an archaeopteryx flitting (did they ever flit?) past my window. Extinction, I fear, is beckoning my CDs, threatening to replace them with… well, nothing, actually, except for digital code on a chip or a disc drive, something ethereal, untouchable, gone with a drive crash. I have not yet downloaded music files from the web and have no intention of doing so until I am led screaming… etc. BUT I have downloaded eBooks books for my eReader, and if someone like me has started to do that, then things must really be changing (I am spanner-man, I like steel, oxy-acetylene cutters and tangible things). Will we lose our big bookshops? I hope not, it would be a sad loss. Very, very sad. What must they do to survive?

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