I was in Glasgow yesterday, and couldn’t resist going into Borders for the last time. I got two poetry books I’d wanted for ages for half price, and I guess Eavan Boland and Gillian Clarke will get the good of it no matter what the circumstances, but boy, it was sad.
The top floor was closed off altogether now so much stock has been sold, and all the rest is huddled onto shelves with temporary labels, and the gaps are appearing and closing up again as books go and are not replaced.
One of my children was working at the Sweater Shop when it went into administration, and although it wasn’t her career, just a student job, the experience was traumatic. As other shops closed down the leftovers were sent to hers, and people would rush in looking for bargains. Then the shelves would empty again and a few more staff would be let go. I got the same feeling yesterday. All the staff working their socks off, and knowing that every day brings you a little nearer the edge. God bless them, I hope they all find good jobs to got to, and soon.
But I also hope that whoever takes on the building will try to do something else significant with it. Borders was more than a bookshop. It was a bookshop that tried, as Waterstones used to, to present the range of what was available, to encourage diversity and experiment, to recognise that books were a bit more than a commodity, and reading was more than something to fill the time in airports. Not bad for a big corporate chain.