While in the US recently, I passed by a Borders store in its final death throes, and stopped by to take a look. Everything was on sale, from the shelves to the ladders. The wi-fi was turned off, the coffee shop had been dismantled, the store computers weren’t working and the washrooms hadn’t been cleaned in… a while. But the books were discounted by 60%, so I grabbed a red basket and started loading up. I mean, The Year of the Flood was six bucks!
So… I couldn’t do it; it felt fundamentally wrong to buy books from the store. I kept thinking of the ten thousand laid-off Borders employees, and the air of misery at this outlet made me reluctant to acquire books from there. I can recall the provenance of just about every book on my shelves, and I knew that each time I looked at these purchases, I’d associate them with the palpable unhappiness at that Borders. I’m aware my actions are at best sentimental and at worst idiotic, lacking any moral or ethical weight, but I put the books in my basket back on the shelving cart. So I didn’t buy The Year of the Flood, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The Education of a British Protected Child, Solar, and Too Much Happiness, each of which was under six dollars.
I did, however, buy a jigsaw puzzle for my son, because he lay down on the floor and dry heaved on seeing my empty book basket. I empathize, dude. And I bought Howl: A Graphic Novel for my husband, who had managed my son for the hour I browsed around that store, which will no doubt have morphed into a Claire’s Accessories the next time I visit the United States.
(Image from Howl; see more images here.)