What Happened to Borders Books?

For many years, I worked at Borders Books, Music & Cafe as a Children’s Bookseller and Children’s Event Coordinator. I loved my job. Really loved it. I started working at the store in Bangor before it even opened. I helped stock the selves, merchandise my area, and create fun events for drawing in customers. This was back in the day when Borders cared about customer service, about getting the customer the exact book they were looking for, and about hiring just the right “book-smart” people for assisting customers. I didn’t just help customers, I formed relationships with them … as did my fellow co-workers. It was a place to come to for Friday Night Jazz, famous author book signings, The American Girls Club, Homeschoolers Night, and so much more. We were an eclectic bunch of booksellers, music sellers and cafe workers too. Some men wore skirts, some other folks had all manner of facial piercings, some were working moms while others were retired military. And – for the most part – we all cared deeply for either books, music, great coffee or all of the aforementioned. But all this seems to have changed …

Slowly but surely, (with the replacement of the former CEO), Borders has become nothing more than a “big-box-store“. I haven’t worked there for years now, but have always been a loyal customer … and I have finally settled on the fact that the book shop I loved so well will never be the same again. All the dedicated book-loving employees are gone. The music department is almost no more. The coffee shop is now owned by another company. The registers are inundated with candy, cheap magazines and dime-store souveniers. The various fun nights of music and social gatherings are totally gone. And our once beloved children’s department now looks like a toy store:

One day, Isaac and I walked into Borders, after just having been there two evenings prior, to find that what we used to call the “book cave” was now filled with all manner of “Made in China” toys. I was absolutely appalled. I asked to speak to a manager – who turned out to be one of the shift managers I had worked with before. I asked him what in the world was going on. He assured me that there were just as many books as there had been prior to their “toy store makeover” … but truth be told – I don’t believe him. There simply is no possible way. Everywhere I looked, there were toys – not books. I then asked him “Why?”. He told me that the company had to sell what people want … and they don’t want books. SERIOUSLY??? What happened to America when people no longer want to buy BOOKS from a BOOKSTORE??? Am I that unique in wanting my son to grow up surrounded by books, music and social gatherings? In Bangor? I mean – Bangor was/is all about kids, community, social experiences, small-town gatherings, education, etc. What happened? And where was I when the change took place?

Needless to say perhaps … but I am flustered by this. It has rattled me in ways I didn’t know were possible. I want my old Borders back. I want some skirt-wearing man with a ring in his nose to help me find the perfect book for my Isaac. I want to drink my latte on a Friday night to the sounds of a local jazz band. I want to meet the latest local authors and have them sign my books. I want Isaac to be able to attend some fun kid-oriented gatherings — like the old science club we used to run, etc. And I definitely want to buy BOOKS at my local BOOKSTORE!

Can you feel me people? What do you think? What is going on in your neighborhoods for better or for worse? And more importantly — where do you find your books?



P.S. I am lovin’ that my man is growing out his gorgeous curly locks (see top photo). Yummy.

Jodi Renshaw

About Jodi Renshaw

Jodi is a homeschooling Mom, a photographer, a wife, and a proud resident of the city of Bangor. She spends part of her time working at a locally-owned shop in the downtown area, part of her time homeschooling her favorite young man, and most of her time behind a camera lens. She often writes about adoption, family life, homeschooling, and community.