Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tom Hunter remembers Borders birth in A2 in 1971

Oberon chair R. Thomas Hunter, PhD recalled Borders Books 1971 birth in Ann Arbor in the wake of today's news of liquidation of the entire bookstore chain. Hunter's essay appeared earlier today in Nina Green's Phaeton email list, and is reproduced here with Hunter's permission:
Although we had received our degrees, my wife, Rosey, and I were still very much involved in Ann Arbor when Borders opened its first store. It boggles my mind how that very informal attempt at creating a store became the builder of hundreds of stores and the employer of many thousands. As I recall, it was nothing exceptional. Bookstores aplenty already populated the Ann Arbor landscape. My favorite was on South University because of its exceptional selection of used books which always seemed to have the book I needed at a very reasonable price. That store, of course, is long gone. I do recall what I especially liked about the Borders stores. It was a simple idea: seating scattered randomly throughout the store so that one could sit down with a book and become familiar with it before deciding to buy. Because of that simple idea, I probably bought many more books from Borders than I otherwise would have. Rosey and I also recall that our daughter Lisa introduced most of her five CDs at Borders stores in the area. They carried her CDs. We still have those that didn't sell with the Borders label on them. I suppose that I have contributed to Borders' demise by using online services (NOT Amazon!) for most of the Shakespeare books in my library. How can it be resisted? I have bought amazing Shakespeare books -- including the Stationers Register -- from England, Australia, and New Zealand without doing more than clicking my computer a few times and waiting for the book to show up in my mailbox five to 10 days later.  Still, I will miss the occasional visits I have continued to make to Borders. I will miss the smell of the books and the random nooks where you can sit and enjoy them. I will miss the special sales on great books at giveaway prices. I will miss all the bookstores I have ever known as places to go to get away and think.  Another sad day. I suppose that is, as they say, progress.
Tom Hunter