20 July 2011

Closed Borders (a follow up)

Yesterday, I wrote about the demise of the Borders Books and Music chain, but I mainly concentrated on my first encounter with what became, for a brief time, a behemoth of books.

As amazed as I was by that first encounter and the idea that it was possible to go into a huge bookstore, sit down in the philosophy section, and browse around for hours without anyone bothering you, I actually tried my best to support local booksellers.

So many of those booksellers are gone. Chapters, which had been on K Street before moving to 11th Street, had tried appealing to its customers for donations of a sort and clung to life for a few years before it had to close up. They had a tremendous selection of poetry, and every April you could I believe buy two poetry collections and get one free. Plus, I saw Brock Clarke read from his first novel, The Ordinary White Boy, one winter night in Chapters.

I mentioned Vertigo Books yesterday. They were in Dupont Circle, just south of the Circle on Connecticut Avenue before relocating to College Park, MD, in 2001. In 2009, they closed for good. Great cultural studies section and interesting authors coming to speak.

How many others? Sisterspace and Books as well as Prometheus Books on U Street. Sidney Kramer Books on I Street (Sidney's son opened up Kramerbooks and Afterwards in Dupont -- still a vibrant place...mainly because of the food and hooking up opportunities).

It's true that DC hasn't been all loss; Busboys and Poets is an addition, but I don't think anyone would argue that the bookstore component could stand on its own...the wait time for a table alone provides an impetus to purchase a book or magazine so you have something to do for the next hour.


Washington Cube said...

There were lovely bookshops in Georgetown including one owned by author Larry McMurty that looked like a Hollywood set of a bookshop--leaded pane windows and ivy climbing the walls. The Saville was my favorite. A real Dickensian house with drops and twists and books falling over in stacks. Borders rose heads above Barnes and Noble. They had a wonderful classics section with Latin and Greek. Essays on Thoreau. Great history books. I will truly miss it. I still am suffering shock over Tower Records gone. There's another venue--former record shops.

cs said...

I was never much of a fan of Tower, but I really loved the quirky record shops, like Orpheus in Georgetown, that we've completely lost.

Washington Cube said...

Orpheus was great. For a while it had Richard in there...the man who never wore shoes.

P.S. My password is "bible."