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E-reading topples Borders

A local bookstore is closing and the increasing popularity of electronic readers is partially to blame.

Borders in Woodbury began liquidation late last month after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year.

Last Wednesday afternoon, the Woodbury store was hopping with customers of all ages trying to score some deals before the store closes for good.

A number of books, movies, CDs, magazines and games were discounted.

A wide range of generations were browsing the store -- and not just at its eReader counter.

"We were all working hard towards a different outcome, but the headwinds we have been facing for quite some time, including the rapidly changing book industry, eReader revolution, and turbulent economy, have brought us to where we are now," Borders Group President Mike Edwards said in a news release.

Edwards admitted the decision to close all stores in the once-booming national chain was due to the eReader technology, which has deterred some people from picking up printed books. Still, a number of avid readers remain devoted to the traditional way of reading.

"I'm attached," said Portia Andrews of West Lakeland Township, as she held a few books in her hands last week at the Woodbury Borders.

She owns a Kindle, but she said Borders has been a place to escape, go through all of the covers, see what's available and browse new topics.

"To me it's easier to look at a book cover than go on Amazon and read everything first," Andrews added.

On the other hand, it's much more convenient to go on vacation with an eReader and have six books downloaded beforehand to save on some luggage space, she said.

"If you take the time and go online and download, it's a lot easier," Andrews said.

Electronic readers -- from the Amazon Kindle to the iPad, the Barnes and Noble Nook to the Borders Kobo -- are becoming more and more popular among different age groups, said Chad Lubbers, R.H. Stafford Library manager.

"It's probably the most frequently requested item we have at the library right now," he said.

He compared today's advancing technology in the book industry with the times where people were transitioning from cassettes to CDs.

"It's going to be an interesting couple of years ahead of us to see how all of this plays out," Lubbers said.

But many Borders customers said they're sad to see it go and are concerned about what will happen next.

Mary Sullivan of Woodbury was shopping at Borders last week as part of her twice-monthly routine. With a basketful of various titles in hand, she said the store always had what she wanted -- a combination of things.

"It's a full service store, it will really be sadly missed," she said.

She's one of the traditional readers who still likes to turn the pages of a book, the visual connection with the books and the ability to browse different topics.

"But I guess that's what the world is going to now," Sullivan said of eReaders.

Owners of the Borders Kobo can still download eBooks online through the Kobo website in addition to others such as Google Books and Yahoo Books, according to Borders' staff.

The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company announced that Borders' assets and administration of the liquidation process was to be given to Hilco and Gordon Brothers.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.