Saturday, February 19, 2011

Borders Closing

I was saddened when I heard earlier this week that Borders was closing 30% of its stores, including the one that I can walk to,(#593) in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Then I realized, based on my behavior, that it was inevitable. After all, I hadn't purchased anything at Borders (or Barnes and Noble) in quite some time. And it's not that I'm not a reader. I often go to Borders to browse new titles and skim through the new knitting books and magazines, but when I'm ready to read my first thought is always the library. I even try to get the books that I need for my classes from the library instead of the campus bookstore. My next stop is, my rationale being that purchasing a used copy from an actual person and not the big box will have a greater impact on that person, my bank account and the environment. I guess it's also having an impact on the big box.
Irony or coincidence? I finished reading Rachel Botsman's What's Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption (CC) which I, of course, borrowed from the library. After watching her Tedtalk, following her on Twitter and expanding my knowledge of the concept of (CC) I still gleaned some useful bits. First, underlying all the economic and environmental reasons for sharing, is that human need to belong. Our use of social media reflects this need and Rachel connects it to CC by saying, "We can now show status, group affiliation, and belonging without necessarily having to buy physical objects" and "Now we express who we are by what we join."
The second big AHA! is that we are in the middle of a paradigm shift. She says, "We hope this period will be regarded as the transition away from consumption for consumption's sake, and away from the fear of what will happen to the economy when this ethos is abandoned." I can personally illustrate this point in two recent instances. Last week, my dad, who is staying with me for the winter, called me at work to say that he had broken the french press coffee maker. He felt bad and wanted to go buy a new one. I said not to worry I would get one. My first thought, unlike my dad's urge to go to the store, was to check out the local thrift stores or even better--Freecycle! And speaking of Freecycle, a few weeks ago Deron Beal, Freecycle's founder, came to speak at our Rotary meeting. During the Q&A, one of the more senior members of our club wanted to know if all this sharing wouldn't put drill makers and car manufacturers out of work. He and my dad, are still stuck in the old paradigm and experiencing the fear that Rachel was talking about. But that is the way of paradigm shifts...those who can see it coming, embrace it and those who can't, fear the change.
So I really shouldn't be so sad that Borders is closing. There are so many new ways to find books to read. Any suggestions?


  1. This is interesting. I just read a piece in the editorials this week from David Brooks expressing similar fears. He descibed our generation as having more of a "free share" mindset in contrast to our parents who started businesses with the intent to make money and then provide jobs. I don't think it's that dire. There will still be jobs; they will just look different. Maybe we are evolving and starting to demand a work environment which supports our values. I don't know the answer but changing is definately coming.

  2. Thanks for sharing that piece. I found the divergent views of the commenters more relevant than the article itself. It is indicative that a massive change is coming when there are so many explanations for how we got into this situation and how people of differing mindsets think it's going to turn out. I would like to put Tyler Cowen’s e-book, “The Great Stagnation on my to read list...can I borrow it from someone?