The bookseller Borders went into administration in the UK today (I assume its operations in other countries are not - yet - affected). I truly regret that this happened. I loved their stores. When they came onto the scene (outside the US that is), I lived in Melbourne. There was a big outcry by the literati and the snobbish published opinion that is alive and kicking in that city. Their big stores would kill small independent booksellers and all that. To be honest, I don't know whether small independent booksellers didn't make it as a result of Borders creating their massive store in Melbourne. I'm not sure I care a great deal, especially given that Borders served customer needs more efficiently. The store was fantastic. The first bookstore I had ever seen that had a coffee shop (yes, sadly Starbucks, but hey). So you'd browse books before deciding whether you'd buy them (try that on Amazon). They organised readings by great authors. Most importantly, they had a breathtaking selection of magazines and newspapers, both Australian as well as international. If you were interested in progressive politics, probably Borders was the only place offering you a huge selection of magazines and papers, both mainstream as well as distinctly warped stuff that I never saw in any other newsagent... I loved the place!
When I went to Glasgow some years later (work again), to my delight I found a superb Borders shop on the high street. Again, a lovely coffee shop inside (mind you, at the time the competition had realised that this brings customers into shops, so they all had them, too), the usual magnificent selection of magazines. The particular Glasgow store was price winning, the building was stunning... it seems it all was too expensive. The photo I include with this blog entry shows the back entrance of the Glasgow store. The idea behind Borders was brilliant to my mind.