The Decline of Borders Bookstore–Slavoj Zizek and the Corporate Marauders

007In working systematically to get things done today–my list keeps growing–I headed downtown to fax some paperwork and pick up some books at the library.  I picked up what books by Slavoj Zizek the Central branch had.  I’d learned of his works through my good friend Eric (his blog is in the list to the right), and, now that I have some time to devote to theory and philosophy, I thought I’d take a closer look.  I had some paperwork to fax (Kinko’s wants $19 for a five-page fax to a number that is “long distance.” Who the hell differentiates “local” and “long distance” calls anymore?  I told Kinko’s where to stuff it), which placed me right on the Circle.

I cracked open Zizek’s Violence while eating my sandwich.  By the time I’d gotten my refill of Diet Coke, I knew that this was a book I was going to need to have on my shelf, filled with underlining and marginalia. I marched right across Washington to the big Borders store and handed the man my copy of the book.  “Show me to the section where you have this guy,” I said.  He went to the computer to look it up.  The store didn’t have any Zizek.  No Borders store carries Zizek. For the love of Pete, he’s published by Picador.

The man shrugged. “Everything goes through the website.  You can get it through there.”  Through the speakers set flush in the acoustic tile, Classical Gas was playing.  An arrangement of it for violin, which seemed as pointless as a brick-and-mortar Borders store. It was then that I noticed that, in the two weeks since I’d last been in that store (and not found what I was looking for), they had rearranged the layout.  The literature, the fiction, the mysteries and romances, the actual books that were on shelves when I walked into the store two weeks before had been moved someplace and in their place were low tables filled with remaindered coffee-table books, with stuffed animals and trinkets, ribbon-tied bags of gourmet jelly beans and mints. It  looked like a cross between a Hallmark store and a flea-market stall. Borders used to be a good bookstore.  Now, can it actually be asked whether it is a bookstore at all?

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~ by dblomenb on July 24, 2009.

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