In light of the Borders bankruptcy news, I made my way to the Pasadena location yesterday for their "20% off all books" closing sale. The lines were long and were filled with would-be readers whose arms were full of books. So full they could hardly hold them as they stood in line. Several had two brimming shopping baskets full of books. My first thought was: where were all of you before today? Is a magical 20% really enough to get you out of your homes and into the bookstore in droves? I was shocked. Why today and no other day in the many years of this bookstore being open? It is rarely crowded (save for the Seattle's Best cafe inside and on the occasional Cesar Millan book signing) so to see the store so full of people just as they are about to close for good was surprising and sad.
I set about finding a few books to purchase, but I lost my nerve. It could have been the lines. It could have been that I was hungry. Or it could have been that I was annoyed with all these people acting like they'd just discovered books for the first time. Or perhaps I was annoyed with Borders for thinking that such large stores (filled with yoga mats and stationary and other decidedly non-book things) were sustainable. I wanted to shout at the people in line, but that seemed misdirected and wouldn't have been appropriate, so I set my books down and headed for Vroman's, a great indie bookstore down the street.
I got a little caught up in making sure Vroman's stays open as long as possible and my haul is evidence of that:
- The Empty Family by Colm Toibin
- West of Here by Jonathan Evison
- What is All This?: Uncollected Stories by Stephen Dixon
- The Lost Art of Reading by David L. Ulin
- Tin House, Volume 12, Number 2
- Slake, Issue 2
Will I read all of these in the next two weeks? No. Could I have purchased most of them at Borders for 20% off cover price? Yes. So why didn't I? It's a good question and I don't know quite how to answer it other than to say that I really wanted to give Vroman's my money yesterday and so I did.
This hardly addresses my Kindle eBooks habit (though I often buy hard cover and digital copies of a book) but I've always tried to shop regularly at my local indies, digital books or not. (And yes, I'm considering an eReader switch so I can actually read the digital copies of books Vroman's offers.) If it's no longer novels that I buy (those are usually digital unless it's an author I adore and so buy hard copies in-store), I find I'm purchasing more art books, more cookbooks, more graphic novels than ever before. I'll continue to do so. Will you?