Many years ago, our family would travel to Ann Arbor a couple of times a year. One of the highlights of the trip was the visit to the original Borders bookstore. The two-level affair took up an entire city block and was one of the best bookstores I had ever been in (until I visited Powell's in Portland).
Some years later, Borders decided to branch out (literally), adding stores in almost every significant city in the country. In our hometown of Akron, we had two such stores. They were great. Not as grand as the home store in Ann Arbor but great nonetheless. Their staff was very dedicated and seemed to have a genuine interest in helping you rather than looking at it as a low paying retail job. When Barnes & Noble came to town, our loyalty was still to Borders. We saw them as the little guys going up against the big NY guys even though Borders was hardly small by that time.
But Borders made a couple of critical mistakes. First, they opened new stores too aggressively, not sensing the shift in shopping habits. In terms of those shifting shopping habits, they made the strategic decision to farm out their online business to Amazon. If you wanted to buy a book at borders.com, you were seamlessly shifted to Amazon to complete the purchase. Good deal for Amazon. Not so much for Borders. By 2011, Borders was gasping for breath and finally passed away. Most independent bookstores had already been deposed by trying to compete with Borders, B & N and all of the online sellers.
So what just happened? I'll tell you what. Amazon, the largest online bookseller, is opening brick-and-mortar stores. Say what? Somehow I missed it but Amazon opened their first "real" store in its home city of Seattle at the end of last year and have now committed to one in the Lakeview area of Chicago.
All this when I finally thought I was figuring this stuff out. Next new newspapers will start up. Dial-up phones will come back and 200-lb TVs will break your back moving them from room to room. AHHH. The good old days.