Saturday 28 November 2009


Borders UK has gone into administration, and I’m sorry to hear it. We need all the bookshops we can get, and I have a soft spot for several of the Borders stores – and not just because they have often stocked my titles in gratifying quantities (surely, though, that can’t be why the business has run into trouble?)

The very first Murder Squad event, way back in 2000, was held at a Borders store in Ellesmere Port. I remember it very fondly – in the nine years our collective of Northern crime writers has been going, the seven founder members haven’t all appeared together that many times. But it was a good evening, and not long after, we all appeared at the Borders store in John Baker’s York.

Here’s a confession, though. Not every Borders event I’ve attended has been quite so successful. I recall one event with Kate Ellis and Chris Simms – two first-rate writers – where the turn-out was thin (and if you discounted those who were friends of Kate’s, it was very, very thin!). But even then, we had a good time, not least in the pub afterwards. It was my first meeting with Chris, and I’ve been pleased to see his career take off in a big way since. He’s currently working on an interesting short story project with which I am likely to become involved – more news about this at a future date.

I can only hope that the business can be salvaged, and that those large and appealing stores don’t disappear altogether. Of course, like many writers, I have an especially soft spot for smaller independent bookshops. But there are some marvellous people working for the chains, and it would be really sad if many jobs were lost as a result of Borders’ inability to withstand the pressures of the modern book-selling market.


Anonymous said...

Martin - Thanks for sharing your personal memories about Borders UK. Bookstores (large or small) have the effect of drawing people together, especially at events like the ones you describe. When a store or chain becomes personal like that, it's even harder to see it in trouble. Like you, I hope that the fine people who work at Borders UK withstand what's happening.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I've been worried about Borders for about a year now...although rumors in 2008 that they were about to go under seem to have been exaggerated.

The Borders that I've gone to here have been bustling with business. Here, though, I've worried a little about their business model--are they a bookstore or a music store? (They sell both here.) Are they spreading themselves too thin?

They have been great to work with, though, and very good about stocking my recent release.

Mystery Writing is Murder

pattinase (abbott) said...

Borders began in Ann Arbor, Mi, right down the road--just one store and what a store it was. I wonder if that will be its eventual fate.

Martin Edwards said...

I must admit that I thought the Borders UK business model of out of town stores, with comfortable coffee shops and a very good stock, should have been successful. After all, many other out of town supermarkets are. But I suppose one difference is that whereas supermarkets sell online themselves, Borders have been in competition with Amazon, and have struggled to match their prices.