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Borders says goodbye after 40 years

A going out of business sale at a Borders bookstore in Washington D.C.
Martin Kalfatovic
A going out of business sale at a Borders bookstore in Washington D.C.

CEO Mike Edwards sent a goodbye note to customers today as going out of business sales start at Borders Book stores across the country.

In his note, Edwards explained why the company couldn't keep their doors open:

We had worked very hard toward a different outcome. The fact is that Borders has been facing headwinds for quite some time, including a rapidly changing book industry, the eReader revolution, and a turbulent economy. We put up a great fight, but regrettably, in the end, we weren't able to overcome these external forces.

Over the last decade, the company made many missteps that led to its demise. One of the most notable was the company's failure to invest early in online book sales. Analysts say other problems included being overextended in real estate holdings for the bookstores, and a lack of leadership.

The shuttering of the company means 10,700 will be out of a job. 400 here in Ann Arbor will lose their jobs at Borders Headquarters (a place that once had 1,800 workers).

We asked our Facebook friends what they will miss when the Borders bookstores are gone.

Browsing the bookshelves

Sue Carlisle wrote what she would miss...

Being able to wander around and check out all of the new books. Then sit down and read the first few pages of each over a cup of coffee before deciding which ones to purchase. - Sue Carlisle
I'll miss just being able to wander aimlessly and browse. I almost always see something I want -- and didn't even know existed before. I'm just not prescient enough to know what's hidden in the electronic crannies at Amazon. - Beaufort Cranford
I will miss a place where actual people go to read actual books...and talk to one another. - Andrew Irvine
I will miss my two favorite places to shop in the Ann Arbor area, two of my favorite places to sit and drink a nice beverage, and my two main reasons for even visiting Ann Arbor. I am very frustrated by this, to the point of grief. - Jake Christensen

Changing technology

I'll never understand why people are so smug about shunning technology and will decry a generation who prefers to carry thousands of books on an e-reader instead of clear-cutting forests to print them. As far as I can tell, the characters & stories are the same. I've always loved books but I've read dramatically more than ever before since getting a Nook, nearly 50 this year! I fail to see how that is a bad thing. - Jean Peplinski
I am so very sad to see this happen. I have been a book lover since childhood. Going to Borders was a favorite pasttime of mine. I will never relent to a piece of machinery to read a book. I am old school and it will never happen, you just can't cuddle up on a rainy afternoon with a Kindle. - Gina Wilson

Sara Kimmerle wrote that she was sad to see Borders come to an end because she "fell in love with the original Borders on State Street in Ann Arbor back in the 70's." But others felt the store had lost its way over the years:

The current Borders is a mess. The company should close. The original Borders on State Street was about selection, service, and quality. They lost their way and have paid the price. - Matteo Valenti
The company lost itself and has been poorly run for ages. Their high prices and the way they've treated employees (at least those corporate folks I've known) over the years dropped them in my eyes a while back. They've been weighed and measured and found wanting. - Jill Schultz

Other Facebook friends wrote to say that they will miss their jobs at Borders. We wish them luck.

I'll miss my job. I was/am proud to work for a Michigan company-Recommending my latest favorite. Being surrounded by books every day for the last 11 years. - Amelia McClellan

There is a Facebook page called Borders Class of 2011 and before for employees who have already lost their jobs, or who will be losing their jobs after the liquidation. Organizers write:

This group is a tool for Borders and Waldenbook employees... to have the ability to stay in touch after the liquidation. Please feel free to add yourself or one of your friends if you wish to stay in touch. Please keep this group positive. We are all going through this together or have already gone through it. Invite other Borders friends so they can share also.

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
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