Yesterday was the end of an era, as Borders closed its huge Michigan Avenue bookstore located across from the Water Tower in downtown Chicago. The closing wasn't related to Borders most recent financial problems; the company originally planned to close the store a year ago, but negotiated a one-year lease extension. However, it is indicative of the larger changes in the overall U.S. retail book business. Borders was in its just-closed location for 16 years, and for the first time in decades, there will be no bookstores on Michigan Avenue, one of the premier shopping locations in the U.S.
Borders will be replaced by Topshop, a British-based clothing chain. There are many clothing stores on Michigan Avenue, and while I wish Topshop well, I also wish that there had been room there for at least one bookstore. There may still be, but in an era of eBooks, bookstores in the U.S. are going to have to get used to much smaller locations. As I've written previously, the new model is likely to look like an oversized Starbucks with a modest selection of print titles, rather than a book superstore with a Starbucks inside it.