After years of struggle and sagging profits, the discount bookstore giant has finally fallen. Borders Books, whose Glendale store has been a local staple for years, was forced to succumb to its flaws and wave the white flag to the competition and the Kindle.
Its death presents more questions than it answers. Will Barnes and Noble, Borders’ biggest brick and mortar rival, manage to maintain a healthy business model in a rapidly changing marketplace? Are books themselves marked for death, the greatest casualty of the Internet and the rise of the Information Age?
These are divisive and unnerving questions, and are a cause for reevaluating the collective strength of a community. Borders may have fallen, but local bookstores are still standing and fighting the good fight. These stores have a chance to succeed and flourish where bargain mega-stores will inevitably fail because they offer an irreplaceable environment that cannot be found in a warehouse or on a website.
We are entering the home stretch of the summer break. Summer school is over, the days are getting shorter and classes are just around the corner. There is no better time than now to grab the kids and spend the next few weeks with the feel of a fresh book in your hands. Let a fellow book lover lead you to your next favorite novel. Enjoy the subtle warmth of an intimate bookstore and rekindle the joy that comes from completely giving yourself over to the perfect book. If nothing else, it’ll be a nice excuse to avoid staring at an LCD screen for a few hours.
Pundits have risen, announcing the beginning of the end for bookstores. They don’t believe that people are willing to travel to a building and pay full retail to get their books. They argue that convenience and a discount is enough to buy the loyalty of the customer and condemn the independent bookstore to a slow and inevitable death.
I, however, am far from convinced that this picture has developed into a certainty. A tight-knit community like the Crescenta Valley with such a strong dedication to local youth and education depends on bookstores as a part of its cultural identity. Borders we can live without, but it is time for us all to lift our independent bookstores back to the status they deserve.
Michael Yeghiayan is lifelong La Crescenta resident and contributor to the CV Weekly.