I was living in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1971 when the first Borders opened there. Before then, we browsed for books at Centicore. Whatever happened to Centicore? I don't know, but Borders went big, and back in the 1990s, I loved the big Borders in Madison, Wisconsin. I went there almost every day, usually with one or both of my sons. Many times we left with a stack of books — usually after spending money in the café. Then came the day — in the late 90s? — when I asked at the information desk if they had WiFi. The guy manning the station gave me an attitude-filled "WiFi?" — as if I was looking for something stupid.
There was a narrative arc to Borders, and my own life followed that arc... up until the point where it diverged.
ADDED: I am reminded of my January 23, 2009 post "Despite shrines to Obama, the bookstore was nearly deserted."
Where is everyone? It's about 5:30 p.m. here at Borders, and I feel as though I've stayed until after closing time. I used to like to go here to browse alongside myriad strangers and to run into people I knew. Now, there's zero "town square" ambiance.
Here's a title that made me feel good about the way my reading about current politics has, in the past few years, migrated nearly completely on-line:
"What Obama Means." Spare me. Whatever is in that book can — I will bet you — be skimmed and understood in less than one minute.