February 11, 2011 / Mediation, Uncategorized
In 1991, the Academy Award for Best Picture went to the disturbing psycho thriller, The …
September 6, 2011
While the closing of the Border’s chain of bookstores can hardly be considered a recent development, the final reckoning looms large on the horizon for the last few stores. I have personally witnessed several stores closing throughout this year. Most recently this past weekend.
If people are arguing that books are dead, they were not among the throngs combing through the shelves of this particular store. In fact the books were apparently prized treasures, but there was some celebration, a bloodlust perhaps, that this store was closing. People, and I must confess myself at times, were excited that the store was closing because they could get bargains and deals. Here, paper and ink were being bartered for the ruination of people’s lives.
Granted, Border’s has had some severe issues. Their fall has been well-documented. (Read some reflections by Mark Evans, former Director of Merchandise Planning & Analysis for Borders here.) But it is interesting that this closing while occasional grief was overheard being voiced, the atmosphere was very upbeat. People pored over titles. Evidently the convenience of a quick search online is outweighed by 60-80% off list price.
At least there was no ability for customers to distance themselves. With their armloads of titles, they were forced to confront, face to face, the very people whose jobs were going to disappear in 10-14 days. Not once did any employee say “If you had bought this many titles before we went bankrupt, we might not be in this situation.” But I wonder how many thought it.
It seems death has an inherent place in capitalism. While capitalism is always careful to lift up images of wealth and success, the death of companies is not just a possibility, but expected… and celebrated. Rivals rejoice. Customers might be saddened, but the thrill of bargains overwhelms those emotions quickly enough.
Books are not dead. But someone has to die so consumers can pay a lesser price.