Earlier this year, Borders Group Inc filed for bankruptcy. After a July 2011 deadline came and went without a buyer for the national book retailer, the company began liquidating its retail chain and closing up stores, with the last of them scheduled to shut down by the end of this month. When that happens, Borders will be no more.
Nearly a decade. That’s how long I worked for the Borders Group Inc. I transitioned to one of the Waldenbooks from a larger multimedia/book company and it was quite a shock. Antiquated registers and outdated search systems were the norm. But one thing the company had was passion. Passion for books and authors. New employees were quizzed about their book knowledge and any interview turned into a discussion of favorite novels and writers. I loved it, really loved it. Every three or four months there was a conference with authors and publishers speaking, eating, and sometimes even drinking with us. I have Borders to thank for letting me meet some of my favorite authors like Jim Butcher and Vince Flynn. I actually got to have dinner with dozens of writers over the years, many of them I had never heard of but that didn’t stop me from enjoying their company. I got to have a quiet one-on-one conversation with Charlaine Harris regarding her newest novel. This is before I had ever heard of Sookie Stackhouse of True Blood fame, way back when the series was known as The Southern Vampire series. I met and befriended the publisher for George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, even got on the advanced reader list for them, too. Oh, those were the days.
But those days ended. It was 2005 when I first started seeing changes, not for the better, might I add. Fewer conferences and far fewer writers in attendance, more conference calls berating under-performing stores (not mine, mind you), and an overall bleaker outlook from upper management. It was also about this time that Borders started changing CEOs almost annually, which never lends itself to a sense of continuity.