19 July 2011

Run for the Borders.

What a short, strange trip it's been.

When I was a young lad, oh let's say 19 or 20, I had never heard of this bookstore called Borders. I was from a little town in Pennsylvania, went to a not so little school in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania, and was pretty happy with the little bookshop that had recently expanded in the downtown area.

However, visiting friends in Washington, DC, one year in either the late 1980's or early 1990's, sometime between 1989 and 1991 let's say, my one friend told me I had to visit this place called Borders.

There was only one in the area, I think. If I recall correctly it was out in Bethesda or Friendship Heights. Back then, my knowledge of DC geography was very spotty.

I was amazed that a supermarket of books existed.

I think the largest bookstore I'd ever been in to that date was the Ollsson's on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown, one of the first casualties in that ill-fated local chain's demise.

Fast forward a few years, and I've moved to DC. I was a graduate student at a school in Foggy Bottom and a Borders opened up on 19th and L. It was a great place to go to kill time before or after class, and of course to buy books, although once I discovered the great local bookstores, I spent less and less time buying books at Borders.

Many of those local bookstores were done in not so much by Borders -- although they played a part -- as by Barnes and Noble, which aggressively moved into DC, and the pressures everyone faced from online retailers like Amazon. Vertigo Books in Dupont Circle was one of my favorites.

I'm pleased that Bridge Street Books in Georgetown -- my personal favorite -- continues.

So now all the Borders will be shuttered. What do we do with these hulking beasts on the periphery of our cities and towns? Link

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