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Technology versus touch

I stopped by Borders at Ward Centre to snag some books and say goodbye

Posted July 26, 2011 by Nonstop Honolulu

It’s sad to see stores like Borders go. The book chain will close all of its six Hawaii locations by the end of September, after announcing last week that it was ceasing operations.

Part of Borders problem is that digital readers like iPads, Nooks, Kindles and other tablets are becoming more popular, replacing the need for traditional books. The pros of having such devices are that they’re convenient and compact, allowing you to have instant access to your digital library and updated newspapers and publications.

Yet, although our generation continues to delve into the world of technology, there’s still value in having something physical at hand. It’s hard to describe the value of feeling paper touch your fingertips and being able to skim through pages. It’s something I’ve grown used to and won’t want to give up.

The Borders liquidation made me think about other struggling brick-and-mortar companies like Blockbuster, who have tried to keep up with the times by offering digital and online movie-viewing options, but are still financially unstable. Netflix has essentially taken over the industry
with its on-demand Internet streaming video and inexpensive DVD-by-mail service.

From music to books, many things can be found online. And although I love the convenience, I hope younger generations can still be exposed to the old-school ways of doing things, like looking things up in an encyclopedia instead of being so quick to turn to Google.

How do you feel about technology taking over traditional ways of reading, watching movies and more?

I stopped by Borders at Ward Centre to snag some books and say goodbye to the place where I spent so many of my college years.

Borders Closing Sale (1 of 9)

Borders Closing Sale


  1. Ron
    Posted July 26, 2011 at 7:31 am

    It’s unfortunate with the closing of Borders. Their Ward store is an anchor tenant at Ward Center, having been there day one on the new expansion next to the IBM building. I’ve been there many a time to pick up CDs and books.

    I feel a large part of their demise is that they did not offer instant savings at the cash register compared to their competitor. Instead they relied on frequent buyer reward point and reward discount coupons that expire in a month. Their discounts consisted of email coupons instead of discounts at the time of purchase, which didn’t tie into and generate spontaneous purchases while in the store. So the drop off in customers due to digital downloads of music, then ebooks was the death nail Borders could not avoid.

    Its unfortunate, but there passes on another hallmark in retail. Maybe another great and new company will come into being. Maybe with the upcoming high price of gas and transportation, we’ll see the return of mom-and-pop stores(?)

  2. tyfferz
    Posted July 26, 2011 at 7:44 am

    I remember writing a paper in college regarding ebooks vs hardcover/paperback and how much of an impact will ebooks have to the consumers and companies. I shared that although ebooks are becoming the “norm”, I am one who loves the feel of turning the pages. I guess that I am sad because Borders was part of my life when I would pre-order Harry Potter books 6 months in advance and wait excitedly for when it became available. I went to the Borders at Pearlridge on Saturday–it pretty much looked like the pictures you took at Ward especially the children’s section.

  3. Posted July 26, 2011 at 8:38 am

    I don’t think a lot of people were surprised when Blockbuster went out of business, but with Borders there’s a lot of melancholic undertones to the coverage. Like @tyfferz, I remember pre-ordering Harry Potter and waiting impatiently for it to arrive. To this day, I love wandering the bookshelves in bookstores. I don’t think I’ll ever really want to let go of the physical experience of reading — like many other technologies that came through and replaced an old tradition, though, that might be where this is headed.

  4. jermel_lynn
    Posted July 26, 2011 at 10:30 am

    @Ron I know what you mean. That Borders store in particular has played a big part during my college years.

  5. jermel_lynn
    Posted July 26, 2011 at 10:33 am

    @tyfferz I like the fact that if you buy e-books, you never lose the content of the book but at the same time, the feel of turning the pages…that is just something I love. I’m also not going to lie, Borders was a great place to look at books for reference since the library hours were sort of limited.

  6. jermel_lynn
    Posted July 26, 2011 at 10:34 am

    @annedreshfield @tyfferz Yeah. To be honest, I still have book swaps with my friends. I can easily turn the page to a reference and show them then and there. <3 books. :)

  7. Posted July 26, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    @jermel_lynn @tyfferz <3 books forever! :)

  8. libz
    Posted July 26, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Hey thanks for writing this, Jermel!

    My boyfriend and I aren’t convinced that the rise of eBooks alone took down Borders, as I don’t think eBooks have reached a tipping point yet. Borders, unfortunately, has been suffering for years. I think the likelier bigger culprit is Often, it’s so much cheaper to buy books on Amazon and have them shipped, versus buying them at a retail store like Borders. Ironically, Borders made the mistake of handing over their website to Amazon a decade ago. On top of that, they seemed to be slower about picking up on eBooks, and they also had three CEOs pass through in just as many years. Basically, it was a downward spiral.

    I think people (like me!) are sad about the demise of Borders because of how it really was a gathering place. Someone recently made a good point about how local authors and musicians would be affected, since Borders was a major venue for book signings and small, live shows. Not too long ago, the Waikele location also hosted slam poetry sessions. On the flip side, this could give locally owned venues more traffic from hosting these kinds of events.

  9. 808marv
    Posted July 26, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    it was great to go into Borders and go through the books and CDs (in the glory days of the 90s when the music section was separate, at Ward & Waikele) and have those moments of serendipity where you would end up buying something totally different from or in addition to what you might have come there to buy in the first place. With digital/online media services I sometimes get too locked into what I like and there isn’t that sense of discovery that you get from wandering around a brick and mortar store. It’s not the same when you have to click around or have suggestions put in front of you based on your searches. And hey in a bookstore you can flip through the whole book and decide if you like it vs. getting a lame five page sample online right! But the times they are a changin. I will miss Borders. Waikele Shopping Center with them and Computer City/CompUSA was like geek’s night out back in the day lol.

  10. JonasMaon
    Posted July 26, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Don’t get me wrong, I am all for digital media. I’d gladly go to digital sources when I need information or clarification, or if I’m perusing the latest article about upcoming events. I love the convenience of being able to download a movie or song while I’m out waiting somewhere, or being able to access a library of movies with just an app and a password. I even enjoy browsing through the online versions of magazines. At literature though, I think that’s where I still live in the past. There’s just something about actually paging through printed books that for me, makes the reading experience, well, an experience. It may just be an antiquated habit, but it’s not one I’m ready to give up anytime soon.

  11. Posted July 27, 2011 at 11:22 am

    I am a total technophile. I get all my books digitally now. It’s just so damn convenient to carry around a library of books wherever I go. I’ve still been known to browse a book store every now and then, but I rarely find myself buying traditional books anymore. Same thing with music. I only ever buy a CD now if I can’t find an album in digital form, and even then, I immediately rip the CD to MP3 and archive the actual disk.

    The only medium I haven’t fully gotten on board the digital train for is television and movies. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus I love, but if I decide I need to OWN a movie, I still find myself buying Blu-Rays.

  12. jermel_lynn
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    @JonasMaon I totally agree with you on that one. It is like, you embrace the present but at the same time, past ways are still relevant. :)

  13. nonstopmari
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    i know we still have barnes, but i somehow always went to borders first. i’m going to miss standing w/ the headphones on, listening to music, and those carpeted stairs that took u up to the promise of coffee, snacks and the food and travel sections at ward.

  14. hnlmark
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I was there at the beginning at the end of the Ward Centre Borders Books. I was on the crew that opened the store way back in the day. Last Saturday I went to the store to buy one more book there. I love being able to carry books and newspapers in the palm of my hand. I also love the serendipity of browsing through a brick and mortar bookstore IRL!

  15. MaxMaxMax
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 11:10 am

    @Ron Exactly why I started buying at B&N also. Instant savings at the register!

  16. MaxMaxMax
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 11:14 am

    That is society for you as it has been happening for centuries. Out with the old, in with the new…As nostalgic as buying books, and for me even more magazines, at brick and mortar stores, digital wins out. I can’t tell you how many magazines I’ve purchased that have sat around unread. Since I switched to digital subscription with most of mine, not only have I read them all, but am taking advantage of the highlighting features and sending paragraphs or other important snippets to Evernote for referencing later.Yes, the page in hand feels right… but efficiency and productivity has might!

  17. MaxMaxMax
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 11:17 am

    That isn’t to say I won’t miss those Saturdays and Sundays that started with browing for hours and settling down with coffee to read the most recent purchase… or to pop a recently purchased CD into the DiscMan to listen to while reading (obviously that (CDs) was from some time ago).

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