But I kind of wish I hadn’t walked into the downtown Seattle Borders. Because it was just plain sad. Half-empty bookshelves, all sorts of carts and ladders and miscellany littering the floorplan. This was not a place to browse and think and mingle with other book-loving souls, it was a place going down, fast. When I got home, I looked it up and discovered that when I went in, that Seattle Borders had less than two weeks before closing.
I made my way over the YA section, and while the gaps made me happy that many books had found good homes, the remaining titles looked so lonely and forlorn I wanted to buy the whole stock. Actually, I might have done exactly that if I didn’t have a single carry-on bag and a trip across the country just ahead of me. My bag was so full that I had to sit on it to close it. Space for a library didn’t exist. Space for a single book didn’t really exist. Still, I couldn’t walk out of that store without a book in my hand. It was a small action, and not one that would make any sort of difference for Borders, but it felt like I was adopting an orphan, giving a book a home, if only just one.
I remember when I was a teenager and Borders was a new thing near my east coast hometown. My mom and I would go inside and ogle at the books, usually coming out with small bundles each. I loved the bigness of the carpeted aisles, the tallness of the bookshalves, the crisp cracking book jackets, and the comfy chairs where you could sit down and get lost in a book before you even took it home. I guess the only reassurance I can find is that the books remain, somewhere, even while what happens inside the walls of a former bookstore will change. I just hope I’ll have that reassurance for a long time to come.