We’ve all heard for a while that Borders is in trouble. Word has it that Thursday was a big lay off day for the Ann Arbor-based company.
First of all, my sympathies to everyone affected. The economy is a bitch.
Secondly, a knuckle sandwich to Borders boneheaded management that is responsible – just as much as the economy – for the sad developments.
I’ve been a Borders slave for years. Together with Barnes and Noble, they successfully drove out of the market the mall chain bookstores that pretty much used to define “romance friendly.” In the hands of Borders and B & N, romance was ghetto-ized to small spaces in the back in the corner in the dark and treated like an embarrassing aunt nobody wants to have over for dinner but everybody suddenly adores come will-reading time.
Their employees snickered. They put titles out late. And they didn’t care that I cared. I can’t count the number of times I complained about the unavailability of titles only to be confronted with a blasé manager who clearly didn’t give a crap.
And then there was red suspenders guy, the bane of Washington, DC romance readers. A long-time Borders employee stationed at the Information Desk next to romance, he sneered, stared, and pissed me off nearly every time I walked in the store. See, he has “better” taste and he’s all about everybody knowing just that.
It’s always ground my gears to pay for shipping and handling since I live in a major metropolitan area, so for years I shopped there every friggin’ week. With no competitors to choose from – at least, no competitors who would dirty their hands with romance, anyway – I was stuck. But not anymore.
Now there is Kindle. I’m not happy about Amazon having any kind of a monopoly because that is pretty much always a bad thing, but there are many things I love about Kindle. Like the instant downloads. And the prices. And the fact that I can use it free of my computer without having to bother with any Mac work-arounds. And, most of all, I love being free of the tyranny of Borders. I know that lately Kindle has been decreed uncool, but for me right now, it’s a terrific solution.
So, while I mourn the employees out of work and those who will be in the future, I hope somebody, somewhere who matters will realize that this is about more than the economy. This is about a company with their corporate heads determinedly in the sand playing with the lives and livelihoods of employees and authors and publishers by doing bad business. Day after day and year after year.
Someday soon there’s going to be one store to buy electronics, one for linens and housewares, and one for books. And there’s more than just the economy at fault.