The announcement that Borders is closing down prompted one of those moments of cognitive dissonance that stops you in your tracks.
I loved Borders and have many happy memories of spending hours in various branches from San Francisco to Silverlink and quite a few in between.
A couple of weeks ago I was in the nearest branch of Borders with my pal, Tim, looking for a potential birthday present. Despite the somewhat truncated stock (I was unaware of their financial problems at the time), I managed to locate the book in question.
Making my way to the till I looked at the price - £7.99. Unbidden the thought “I bet Amazon do it cheaper” popped up in my mind and, dear reader, to my shame I put the book back.
After Tim had dropped me home I went online and sure enough there was the same book. £5.00 (including postage). I clicked the button and the book arrived at about 7.30 a.m. the next morning.
A while back I read somewhere (I’m sorry I can’t find the reference now) that stores like Borders were really becoming little more than a showroom for Amazon and in this instance it proved to be true.
Whilst the online purchase wins the price war it has yet to come up with a satisfactory system to replicate coming across the unexpected. A search engine is a poor substitute for what is, for me, the most pleasurable part of book buying: not knowing what you’re looking for until you find it.
However, as much as I love the idea of going into a bookshop a cursory glance at my Amazon account’s recent purchase history shows I’m also one of those folks with the metaphorical blood of Borders closure on my hands.