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Of Borders, and 'You've Got Mail'

Remember the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan romantic comedy, in which Fox Books stood in for big bad, big-box Borders store, trying to run the independent Shop Around the Corner out of business? These days, Borders is the underdog.

Many years ago, I took my oldest daughter to see the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan movie, You’ve Got Mail. It’s a romantic comedy, with a plot that centers on the big bad book superstore swamping the small independent bookstore. 

Back then, the parallels to Borders, newly opened , and the small independent Robin’s Book Store on Third Street, were obvious. 

Today, it seems, Borders has turned into the underdog, as the chain tries to save itself by closing up to 200 of its stores, .

That same daughter and I—and about 200 other people, most of them in line, it seemed—hit the store Saturday looking for bargains. 

I’m sure it was one of a handful of times I’ve been in a Borders in years.

That’s partly because I believe in getting value from my tax dollar and patronizing the Geneva Public Library, where I’m proud to say I’m a regular. (I have my card number—all 14 digits—memorized, and have for years.) 

And it’s also because snagged me as a loyal customer the weekend it opened in Geneva Commons, by seducing me with a B&N membership worth 10 percent off on all purchases. Yes, it costs $25 a year. Yes, that seemingly means someone has to buy $250 in merchandise a year to make it worth the $25.

Not quite. B&N members also get plenty of coupons via e-mail: for 10 percent off this, for a limited time, or on some lovely occasions, 25 percent off that, for a limited time. Those extra savings can add up, particularly if the purchase is for a bigger-ticket item, such as a DVD box set or a more expensive book. 

It’s possible those coupons are available to anyone looking for them online. That’s OK. In the long run, $25 a year is a small price to pay to help keep book stores afloat. It’s possible Barnes & Noble might be in as much trouble as Borders. I hope not. I don’t want Barnes & Noble to fail, and I don’t wish ill on Borders, either. 

I looked around at the crowds in the St. Charles Borders on Saturday and knew many of the staff had to be thinking, “Where were all you people when it counted?” Truthfully, I don’t think the discounts were all that fabulous, though my daughter and I each bought a number of items. 

Late last week I was talking with several people about the closing. I mentioned I rarely patronized Borders because of the B&N membership. (I wasn’t aware, at the time, that Borders also has a rewards program. Too late now!). It was still a shame, we all agreed. Then someone mentioned, “Go to Town House Books.”

Indeed. Support your independent bookseller. Town House Books has served St. Charles for more than 30 years. If you’re unwilling to buy, take advantage of your . 

And while at the library, check out You’ve Got Mail! Don’t care if the story’s hokey. Don’t care if Meg Ryan, in real life, is probably nothing like Kathleen Kelly, and that real life is nothing like reel life. It’s a light, frothy diversion from that real life. Enjoy. 

Jules March 15, 2011 at 02:41 AM
why were the previous comments erased?

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