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BLOG: Saying goodbye to a bookstore

Tom Jackson • Jul 20, 2011 at 2:29 PM

I have library cards for several northern Ohio public libraries, I belong to a local book discussion group, I help judge a prize for science fiction novels and I write a blog devoted to an American writer with a cult following. I'm a pretty serious reader.

So I'm really sad that Borders is shutting down its bookstores, including the one at Sandusky Mall. The store's "we're closing our doors" sale starts Friday.

Every time I've gone to a Borders, I've been amazed by the selection.

One of my passions is ancient history. When I went to the Sandusky Borders Tuesday, I spent a few minutes looking at the Classical Studies section, looking at specialized books such as "The Horse, the Wheel and Language" by David W. Anthony and "The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History" by Pat Southern. 

The folks at Sandusky Mall are trying to find a replacement bookstore. I'm sure it will be fine. To paraphrase Will Rogers, I've never met a bookstore I didn't like. But I'll bet it won't have a "Classical Studies" area. I'll bet it won't have many of the titles I spotted Tuesday.

When I moved to Ohio in 2003, I worked for a few months for Joseph-Beth Booksellers at Legacy Village east of Cleveland. It was a big bookstore. It closed last year. The Joseph-Beth store in Shaker Square in Cleveland closed years ago.  The small chain went bankrupt last year, emerging with just three stores. 

To some extant, Borders ran into trouble because it was replaced by something better. No bookstore at the local mall can match the selection at Amazon. I've bought small press books from Amazon that were so obscure, even Borders wouldn't stock them.

Borders made business mistakes. Unlike Barnes and Noble, it didn't embraced electronic books until it was too late. Probably it should have moved more quickly to shut down underperforming stores. 

But isn't it a shame that having a great selection didn't save Borders?

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