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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sadly turning the page after Borders’ decision

Meg Ryan’s been on my mind a lot.

No, not because she’s seemingly disappeared from movies in the past 10 years.

Rather, I’ve been thinking of her because she gets it. She knows what I’m feeling.

OK, maybe not Meg Ryan. But her Kathleen Kelly certainly gets it.

Kelly was the heroine of a 1998 big screen romantic comedy called “You’ve Got Mail.”

She falls in love with a guy she encountered in an Internet chatroom and through a series of adventures comes to realize he owns a supersized bookstore that is just about to put her little children’s book shop out of business.

The book store, called Fox Books, is set to open around the corner from her little shop, which has been in Manhattan for years, since her mother started it.

When she realizes Joe Fox, played by Tom Hanks, owns her new nemesis, she unloads on him. He picked the wrong moment to let her in on the secret, because she’s just realized her Internet friend (also Hanks) isn’t going to show up for their blind date at a neighborhood coffee shop.

“But I wouldn’t expect you to understand anybody like that. You with your theme park, multi-level, homogenize-the-world mochaccino land. You’ve deluded yourself into thinking that you’re some sort of benefactor, bringing books to the masses,” Kelly tells Fox, referring to her no-show date, in a fit of frustration.

It’s a moment filled with hostility, but because it’s a romantic comedy, you know there’ll be happy ending.

As you watch the construction of the cinematic Fox Books, you realize it’s supposed to be Borders.

It’s big, stuffed with books, filled with distracting signs and other displays and features a coffee shop with a place to sit and read a book.

The key feature of the book store is that you don’t have to buy the book to be able to read it.

And that’s why Borders’ ending isn’t all that happy.

How many of us have pulled up a chair in Borders, cracked open a book, realized we liked it and gone home to buy it on


It seemed so innocent. There’s always a line. That means people are buying, right?

Just not enough did.

I get it.

But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Borders’ announcement Feb. 16 that it was seeking bankruptcy protection sent shockwaves as the retailer decided it was time to admit it couldn’t keep up with Amazon anymore.

I keep telling people that my disappointment lies in the fact that those in eastern Lake County will lose their bookstore. They’ll be forced to drive all the way to Great Lakes Mall to find Barnes and Noble and its books, distracting signs and coffee shop.

But it also lies in the fact that I’m as much to blame for Borders’ failure as the company itself.

While company officials failed to keep pace with the growing Internet presence of Amazon and its other competitors, I didn’t spend enough at Borders.

Sure, I used my coupons at Christmastime, purchasing books and other items for those I love.

But I spent too much time perusing the shelves and not enough time buying. Oh, sure, I always bought a cup of coffee from the stand on the store’s eastern side.

But, it’s all but certain that it’s too late for the Mentor store now.

And, pretty soon, if I want to buy something from Borders, I’ll have to hike on over to Cedar Road for the shop at La Place and Cuyahoga County’s higher sales tax rate.

It’s my own fault.

And now I’ll have to find another mochacchino land.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel for you, Laura. So sad. I loved my Borders, too. No books for us on the East side, now. And I didn't look at books in store and go home to buy them on Amazon. I bought them in the store, and since I'm disabled, the ladies would always carry them out to my car for me. Not only that, but they kept an eye on me to make sure that I was ok and always came to ask if I needed anything. One day, I went in and just couldn't finish finding books on my list (I always made a list, so I wouldn't forget books I wanted), the ladies found all the books while I sat in cafe with my head on the table. I'm going to miss those ladies and the book smell. It was like going to someone's house, not a store.

March 1, 2011 at 2:38 PM 

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