Last night I was at the local Borders for a reading by Megan Abbott from her new novel, The End of Everything. It was an excellent turn-out, filling up all the allotted seats, leaving standing room only. I was happy to stand, eager to hear Megan read — she always does a fine job.
With the closing of Borders this reading may well be one of the last at this particular store. It’s sad. I’ve been hanging out at Borders bookstores since I lived in Ypsilanti, where I attended school at Eastern Michigan University, back in the lat 80s and early 90s. Back then there was just the one store in downtown Ann Arbor, and now it is going to close, leaving a big gap there. I’m not sure what bookstores are left in Ann Arbor. I heard that the small independent bookstore, Shaman Drum, was forced out of business, by Borders ironically (I think that’s ironic anyway…).
Also, I’ve heard that Barnes and Noble is not doing all that well either. Will they last? And if they don’t, what then? Will small independent stores fill in the gaps, or will all bookstores fall by the wayside, leaving only online bookstores such as Amazon.com. Where will authors give readings then? How will this effect publishing?
Of course, there’s also the impact on unemployment. The closing of Borders means the loss of thousands of jobs. And on another jobs-related note, NASA’s space shuttle program ended today with the final landing of the last shuttle, resulting in a loss of thousands of jobs as well.
This morning on the radio, on my way into work, after dropping my daughter off at her grandparents’ for the day, I heard reported that Michigan’s unemployment numbers inched up to 10.5% which is well above the national average of 9.2%.
I can’t imagine what they’re going to do with the flagship Border’s store, especially at a time like this. It has to be the most ginormous piece of commercial real estate in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor. When I was a kid, I think at least part of the space was occupied by one of the hugest-ass arcades I’ve ever been in, the Simulation Station, which I remember as being incredibly loud and awash in neon and disco lights. I hadn’t heard about the Shaman Drum closure. But where is the pretentious arm of the Ypsi-Arbor literary brat pack congregating these days?
I heard about the Shaman Drum closure via Facebook, I think, just this week but I think it’s been awhile, though just how long I couldn’t say.
You’re right about that being a big piece of real estate in downtown Ann Arbor. And not much chance of Barnes & Noble filling it; they’ve got problems too, although not to the extent of Borders obviously.
I’m not sure I remember the Simulation Station. Was it there when we were at Eastern?