Borders Was in the Mistake Making Business

In September, just days before Borders Group met its end, one of the chain’s last retail holdouts, in the Nashville suburb of Brentwood, Tenn., was being liquidated, with prices slashed by 90 percent. It was difficult in the stark surroundings not to think of a battle waged and lost, of the armies of Kindle owners and e-book peddlars off celebrating victory while all around lay the carnage—two copies of a Paul Reiser memoir, the suspect Greg Mortensen book Stones into Schools, a still-brimming manga section. A couple of professional scavengers picked over the DVDs, cataloging them with their own scanners. Empty shelves were being stacked in the store’s growing hollows and themselves tagged with prices ranging from $25 to $50. The defeat felt so stunning because it seemed so nearly complete, not just for Borders but also for bookselling in general. A two-story Borders in Nashville proper, about 10 miles north, had shut its doors four months earlier. In November 2010, a 30,000-square-foot outlet of a bookstore chain called Davis-Kidd Booksellers, in business in the city for 30 years, had closed as well. With the shuttering of the Brentwood Borders, there wasn’t a store within 22 miles of Nashville that specialized in new books.

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