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R.I.P. Ann Arbor Borders

September 12, 2011 - Nikki Younk
As the title of this blog suggests, I’d just like to pay my respects to Borders’ flagship store, which was located on East Liberty Street in Ann Arbor. The store closed today.

There’s nothing I particularly like about big chain bookstores like Borders. They take business away from small, independent bookstores. They usually don’t have a diverse selection of books. Their goods are overpriced.

However, there was just something about the East Liberty Borders that attracted me from day one. It wasn’t as much a bookstore as it was a meeting place, a library, or a place to daydream between classes.

One year during the Ann Arbor Art Fair, a tornado warning forced the crowds in the streets to find shelter in the nearest building. I and hundreds of others chose Borders. As we stood around, elbow to elbow, we chatted about our favorite books and enjoyed each other’s company. For about half an hour, a group of strangers became friends.

Borders was also great for browsing. I honestly bought my fair share of books and CDs from that store, but I admit that I did do a lot of in-store reading. Hey, books are expensive! Over the course of one summer, I read almost every available Chuck Palahniuk novel, almost every available Irvine Welsh novel, books by Czech authors Bohumil Hrabal and Milan Kundera, diaries by Anais Nin, short stories by Aimee Bender, and graphic novels by Daniel Clowes. Clearly, I didn’t do much else that summer.

If you found yourself in downtown Ann Arbor with a half hour to kill, Borders was the place to do it. You could read, listen to CD samples, people-watch, or get a cup of coffee. You might even luck into some special appearances. I came in one day to see the band Scissor Sisters playing a free concert. On another day, Billy Corgan was doing a book signing.

I’ll certainly miss that place.



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