Friday, July 29, 2011
The End Is Nigh
Last week I received the news that my bookselling alma mater, Borders, was finally shuddering to a halt. Ironically, I heard the news the same day that I finally was offered a new job. I'll be developing content for eBay-style book auctions for Goodwill of South Central Wisconsin. Look for the auctions in the future at shopgoodwillmadison.com or you can see some auctions now at the national Goodwill auction site at shopgoodwill.com. I had a little time before my start date, so I took advantage of the time to make my semi-annual pilgrimage to my home town to see my parents. Before getting started, I stopped by the remaining Madison location Borders store for one last hurrah. Offering a ten percent discount on books never brought anyone into a Borders before. But, add some bright yellow and red "Liquidation!" signs, and the general public just pours in. The parking lot uncharacteristically was jammed full and I had to park at the next business over. The discounts were not much of a draw, and the melee inside was discouraging. I empathized deeply for the employees having to deal with the sudden chaos. So, I grabbed some last souvenirs and ended my visit quickly. If I may put in a few plugs, I can say I picked up David McCullough's new book, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris (Simon & Schuster), James Morton's The First Detective: The Life and Revolutionary Times of Vidocq: Criminal, Spy and Private Eye (Overlook), and The Sinner's Grand Tour: A Journey through the Historical Underbelly of Europe (Broadway) by Tony Perrottet. All are terrific, entertaining reads.
Further down the road in Champaign, Illinois, I dropped in to the Jane Addams Book Shop. Most of the small shops that used to dot the University of Illinois campus are now gone, but the Jane Addams, in downtown Champaign, trods on. This store is full of great books. An excellent Americana section greets the customer in the entrance room. On the back side of it, I spied four shelves of Lakeside Classics, where a collection of Modern Library books once resided. Collectors of Juvenile series will find a very large selection in the next room. While the selection is excellent, be prepared to spend some money at this shop. I've never found a bargain here. I've always found that prices are generally $5 to $10 more than I expect to pay elsewhere. The trade off here is that you will find books that you want.
On my way home, I was looking forward to a stop in Lebanon, Indiana at a shop I had only recently discovered, named Mason's. I arrived only to find that this shop, too, had closed its doors. This was disappointing. I had visited before with very little time, and although I could not look it over carefully, I could see that this shop was full of sleepers. Alas, it will forever now be the fish that got away.
Cool New Books in Bookstores Now: see above.