Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Farewell, Borders...

‘Tis a sad day in the Guerra household. 

Borders was plastered on the front of the Wall Street Journal with news of their bankruptcy filing this morning. In a bid to make themselves profitable again, they will be closing 200 of its stores including the entire Austin market.  Michael only started working for them back in early October but it doesn’t make this sting any less.  I’m heartbroken for him as he and the rest of his coworkers will now be searching for new jobs.  Borders was good to Michael, no doubt about it.  Having finally broken free of a string of awful jobs, Borders was like heaven to him.  His coworkers were awesome, the clientele was bearable, and Michael really thrived selling a product he loved.  I can’t complain either, since they were very understanding of his role as a husband and father and were flexible with him when it was needed.  Being able to buy books at a discount wasn’t half bad either! 

Borders’s financial woes are also saddening, not just for the immediate unemployment status my husband is facing, but also because it means the book industry is changing yet again.  As an aspiring writer, I’ve been watching the market and seeing how everything is going to digital everywhere.  Borders lost out on the market because they resisted this change.  They kept trying to prove that brick and mortar stores were the way to go, that eBooks were a fad, and that Borders would be a cornerstone of the publishing world forever.  But they were wrong.  eBooks gained popularity and they ultimately lost out to Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes and Noble.  Their Kobo eReader was too little, too late and now hundreds will find themselves without a job in the coming months.

There is something to be said for holding a real book in your hands.  I love the sensation of paper beneath my fingers and the sound of the bindings cracking and the pages rustling.  I love the musty smell that tickles your nose as you dive deeper into the story.  You lose out on that sensory experience with eBooks.  I know that I’m probably one of very few who seems bothered by this, but I feel like the loss of real books is like losing part of your soul.  Technology is continually numbing us to our own existence, allowing us to hide behind computer terminals and never interact with one another.   

When we experienced voluntary blackouts in Austin a couple of weeks ago due to inclement weather, I got a taste of what life would be like without technology.  I couldn’t power up my Mac to read the news.  I couldn’t flip on my TV or radio.  We had no heat, save for the fireplace which was miraculously working.  I couldn’t make coffee or cook anything.  If we’d had our water operating on an electric well system like my parents do, I wouldn’t have been able to get water!  There we were, huddled next to the fireplace under blankets reading books to pass the time until the power came back on.  I felt so frustrated by the inability to plug in and find out what was going on.  Batteries and electricity won’t last forever and technology is continually out-evolving itself.  Kinda makes you wonder who will have the last laugh...

But I digress.  The imminent closing of Borders is a huge loss for Austin, especially those of us who depended on it for income.  I’m sure that the Big Man Upstairs has something bigger and better planned for Michael; it will simply be a matter of time until we see what that is!  Until then, we’re hoping they close the store later rather than sooner.  If you have any ideas or leads for Michael, please let us know!  

One last thing...if you go to any of the liquidation sales, please remember to be nice and sympathetic to the employees you encounter there.  It's not easy to put on a smile when you're facing unemployment!

Here's hoping,
Kelly

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