No Borders? My Nose Knows

The first thing I notice is the smell.

It's not an odor, it's a scent---tickling the olfactory nerves with its blend of the newly minted, the newly printed. Then there's sometimes a hint of coffee wafting from somewhere in the back.

I love walking into a bookstore.

The used bookstore has its own scents, and that blend is appealing, too.

But today I talk about the new bookstore, where nothing has been pre-owned, and the books have only been read by the patrons sitting in overstuffed chairs or on hardbacks as they sip their lattes.

The big box bookstore is dying a slow, agonizing death. It reminds me of the gradual yet pervasive disappearance of the drive-in movie theaters, "back in the day"---which was less than 20 years ago.

The announcement that Borders is liquidating, severing over 10,000 jobs across the country and over 400 in Ann Arbor alone, is sad beyond the job loss, which this economy hardly needs.

This isn't just a chain closing; it's maybe the harbinger of a piece of our soul being cut out of us.

For now, Barnes and Noble survives, but for how much longer?

It's another instance of how the Internet giveth and can taketh away.

There hasn't been an economic double-edged sword in recent times quite like the Internet.

Jobs have been created, but you get the feeling that more have been eliminated in this digital, e-age. has been blamed, in part, for Borders' demise. More people are doing their browsing online---and not just website surfing. I'm talking actual BROWSING. Remember that?

Remember when you touched and felt the items you were considering for purchase? Remember when buying decisions were made on more than just a thumbnail photo on your computer's monitor?

The convenience of online shopping can't be overlooked. I admit that there's something wicked about "shopping" in your pajamas at 11:00 at night.

But then I walk into a bookstore, as I did last weekend (Barnes and Noble, in fact), and there was that smell again, beckoning me---that come hither scent of books, magazines, games and java.

That's java the coffee, not java the computer programming language.


I don't even have to buy anything at a bookstore in order to enjoy myself. On Sunday I had some time to kill while the ladies in my life had fun at the Ulta makeup store. I spent some 15 minutes standing and crouching in front of the sports section of books, sliding one out on occasion to peruse.

I wandered over to the mystery section, and then the history area. Nearby were some spiritual books, one of which I actually purchased.

I have stabbed my nose into a book for purposes of just smelling it. I admit it. I smell books. Why? Because they smell good. I also love their newness, their crisp pages, their tight binding.

I could spend hours in a bookstore and buy little to nothing. It's the best babysitter for me, and my wife knows it.

There's a Borders near me, in Oakland Mall, though for how much longer, who knows. I was there last weekend, too.

I love the smell of a new bookstore.

You can't get that online.

Not that the cutthroat world of business cares much about that.


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