Thursday, December 24, 2009

From The Times
December 23, 2009
Writers fear the worst as Scotland's biggest bookstore closes
Charlene Sweeney

Scotland’s biggest bookstore has closed for good, leaving writers worried and readers saddened. Borders, which went into administration last month, ceased trading yesterday across the whole of Britain, with the loss of about 1,550 jobs.

The bookseller, which had 45 stores across Britain, including two in Glasgow and one each in Edinburgh, Dundee and Inverness, faced heavy competition from internet booksellers and supermarkets.

Its collapse follows the disappearance of several independent booksellers from the high street.

At the flagship store in Glasgow’s Buchanan Street yesterday, the queues stretched from the ground floor right down to the basement as shoppers tried to pick up a final bargain in the clearance sale.

Some parts of the shop were already closed, with staff packing away what remained of the fixtures and fittings. Shelves were marked with bold black and yellow stickers, indicating that they were also for sale. Employees were even selling stationery that had clearly been used in the shop’s office.

One member of staff said yesterday: “I’ve lost jobs before but what was different about this was the speed of it. There are also a lot of couples working here so it will very hard for them.”

She added that the store’s closure would be a major loss for readers: “This was the biggest bookshop in Scotland. We got people phoning us from all over the country, some from Northern Ireland, trying to source stock. We also sent out books as far afield as Canada.

“I don’t know what people in Glasgow are going to do now. Customers keep asking us things like, ‘Where can I get foreign newspapers?’ and the answer is we just don’t know.”

Borders first opened in Britain in 1997, 26 years after brothers Tom and Louis Borders founded its American parent company. The store was part of a revolution in book retailing, mixing bookselling with coffee.

The change also helped to precipitate the end of Scotland’s independent bookshops, which could not match the heavy discounts and special offers Borders and rival Waterstone’s used to attract customers. In 2000, the Glasgow-based bookseller John Smith retreated from the high street to the university campuses where it had started its life in the 18th century. Two years later, the Edinburgh-based chain James Thin, which was founded in 1836, collapsed.

Writers said that Borders helped to fill the gap by promoting Scottish authors and hosting book launches.
The rest at The Times online.

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