Monday, July 25, 2011

Empty Shelves

All pros have their home court or field. The Blazers have the Rose Garden, the Cubs have Wrigley Field, and the Bears call Soldier Field home. Writers are no different. The bar at The Ritz in Paris was where Papa Hemmingway spent many an hour imbibing and seeking inspiration, decades before it was named in his honor. J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis hung their hats in Oxford's Rabbit Room at the Eagle and Child. Norman Mailer called New York City's White Horse Tavern home.

For the last dozen plus years, my literary HQ has been a single branch of a chain of bookstore cafes. I'm speaking of the Beaverton branch of Borders. Many of my afternoons have been spent within those walls sipping espresso, observing publishing trends, discussing a variety of topics, and receiving bits of inspiration. It was literally the place where everybody knew my name.

I've attended book release parties there, bought my holiday gifts and had them wrapped there (those who know me know how important it is for me to have gifts wrapped for me), held business meetings there, and generally used it as my home base away from home. I've even fantasized about having my first book signing there, once I get published.

This afternoon, I strolled its showroom floor for the last time. Although the liquidation is only in its forth day, the cafe is already dark and stacked with boxes. Garishly bright discount signs hang above rapidly emptying shelves of alphabetically jumbled volumes, as a multitude of shoppers take advantage of bargain prices.

I could write about how the trend toward buying E-readers, rather than physical books, has severely damaged the book publishing and retail industry. I could write about the tragedy of losing 10,000 American jobs as our country heads into default. For me, the closing of Borders is more personal than those stories though. It's about saying goodbye to friends losing a security blanket of brick and mortar.

In a few short weeks, the shelves will be bare, the windows will be void of weekly specials, and the doors will be locked. Ghosts of avid readers and caffeine seekers, will be the only vestiges of life occupying the lonely stone walls, as former employees, some being special friends of mine, will be forced to seek their next source of income.


  1. James. Sooo sorry to hear this. I'm sure you've made a ton of friend through the years. Is there someplace you all can now regularly meet? Thanks for the reminder about the Amazon link on your site. I will order from there next time I need a new book. Sincerely, Jenny

  2. I doubt "the gang" will ever meet somewhere, over a pint. Personally, I will eventually find a new hangout, but the sense of loss will be with me for some time.

  3. Horrible to have a retreat close down. I think Borders closed a while back here. My small local bookstore closed down a while ago. I knew everyone in it. It wasn't the kind of place you could drink a coffee etc. but it was still so sad to see it go.

  4. I am so sad about the whole Borders thing too. =(
    I'm sorry to hear your favorite place will be no more.
    I'm hoping to one day have a place like that...but until the military stops moving us around...I have to settle for whatever's near.

    I noticed you gave Girl with a Dragon Tattoo only 1 star... boo! I was looking forward to reading that. Is it really that bad?

  5. J. Woolf: It's sad to lose any place like that, I agree.

    Tayskye: I felt like "Girl" couldn't settle down and decide what story it wanted to tell. It was disjointed and kinda all over the place.

  6. Sorry to hear that...I don't think that the closing of certain book stores is all due to the e-reading issue. Borders was spreading itself way too thin. But either way, it's still a loss for it's customers/lovers, I only had one Border's store near me and I couldn't visit much (which frustrated me beyond reason) now that I know it's completely gone I'm left with no hopes of ever visiting it again. :'(