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Westwood's Borders takes a bow

Borders_mccartney In better days, the Borders bookstore in Westwood  hosted book signings for photographer Annie Leibovitz, actor-turned-producer Henry Winkler and musician Sir Paul McCartney. But now, the countdown to its closing is on.

The Borders Books and Music located at 1360 Westwood Blvd. is scheduled to close on Friday or when the stock is cleared from shelves, whichever comes first.

Gendy Alimurung checked in with the store for the L.A. Weekly. Camilla Ostrin, who's been on the bookstore staff for 12 years, isn't sure what comes next, she tells Alimurung.

"Most of us are introverted and bookish, which only adds to the problem," she says.

Partly, she can't make definitive plans. The company is giving them severance pay, but employees have not yet been told exactly when their employment ends. Liquidation will continue until all the merchandise is gone, and when that finally happens is anyone's guess.

The protracted demise is helping Ostrin gradually acclimate to her new reality, at least. Empty bookshelves are the saddest part. She's used to seeing them full. Customers likely would agree; they don't seem to understand that the store isn't being restocked, that the new Obama calendars aren't coming in, or that once the Paperchase journals are gone, they're gone.

When Borders in Westwood closes, mystery lovers, at least, will still be able to find books in the neighborhood. The Mystery Bookstore is just a half-mile away, at 1036-C Broxton Ave.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: In 2005, rock legend Paul McCartney read his book "High in the Clouds" to children at the Borders in Westwood. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (11)

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They are closing the borders in Santa barbara and thousand oaks too... Very sad

At least we are spared from viewing the new Obama calendars.

Because all the students just lounge, study, and not buy anything. This is why local coffee shops have also died. I put my way through college working in both a bookstore and coffee shops so I am disgusted when I see this behavior by college students.

Support your local bookstore and coffee shops, buying a drink doesn't justify you sitting on your butt for 6 hours studying. Go to your dorm room or campus library.

Either way you (undergrad at UCLA) caused part of the demise of Borders Books in Westwood.

The phrase "introverted and bookish" went to my heart. One of the invisible burdens of this terrible economy is how hard it is for shy people to go out every day and put on an exhausting performance as they look for work.

When I, fresh out of grad school and a failing marriage, got a part-time job at the Border's on Westwood, my life was a wreck. The good people at Borders 'held' me with their kindness and humor and geeky lovableness. (Hey, I was geeky to...) They became my family. What also helped were the books, and the books were numberless. Few may remember how varied and deep the original stock of books was at the Westwood location: you could find anything. And you were invited (yes, invited) to read what you discovered in big, overstuffed wingchairs while sipping an expresso and keeping an eye on the flow of booklovers coming up the main stair, the one lined with local art.

A fear we had with the success of Borders was that local bookstores would suffer, and they did. The Sisterhood Bookstore, formerly across the street from the Westwood Border's, was an early casualty. At the time we were sad, but we liked our jobs at Border's and shrugged it off. Now, the great West Coast flagship of Border's is closing as well, it too a victim of unpredictable economic seas.

I will miss it deeply.

How is this a surprise? Borders as a company has been bleeding financially for some time.

It has been the business model of Borders to let people hang out and read for free. And it worked for some time. So don't blame college kids. Borders and bookstores are closing all over the country . . . iPad anyone?

Having managed Barnes & Noble stores, I knew the B&N Westwood store as well as the Borders Westwood pretty well. H's comment about the students was apt. It wasn't just that they were everywhere and spending nothing, they were off-putting to other spending customers who would have liked to have a cup of joe during their shop. The complaints from serious customers was a constant and the response from New York was always the same: leave the students alone. Managers saw the handwriting on the wall back then. It surprises me not at all that bookstores with cafes and no in-and-out rules would go down.

I remember when they opened this Borders. One of my favorite bookstores was directly across the street, Sisterhood Bookstore, which had been there since the early 70's - Sisterhood supplied the women's studies books at UCLA and once Border's opened, the students migrated across the street, never to return. I saw many great writers at Sisterhood and they had a real sense of community in that store (the back room was filled with lots of local treasures). Borders, along with Barnes & Noble, pushed these small independent stores out (goodbye Duttons, etc.) and now they are hurting. What comes around goes around. Yes we all want lower prices and yes we all shop on Amazon to get that. Borders did not keep up with the times and even though I saw some great writers there as well over the years, it never was anything more than a backup UCLA library.

They're closing my Waldenbooks/Borders in Wakefield, RI too. It's the only bookstore in the area and has been a stable income earner for our local business enviroment for over 30 years. Unfortunately Borders took the profits and never wanted to put anything into the store (it's had the same carpet for thirty years!). Corporate America is killing our country and the little people are the ones who get the worst of it everytime. Good luck to all the employees from all the Waldenbooks/Borders stores countrywide that are closing....you are all the true assets of the company!

Students sitting at the Borders Cafe has nothing to do with it shutting down, Its not like they were driving business away, if anything they were getting people to the cafe, who would like to sit in an empty cafe and stare at the empty tables? The students brought about a festive atmosphere, as well as sales, they do land up buying atleast some coffee, they brings friends over who buy more stuff. More so, the place looks "happening" it makes you want to sit there and enjoy the atmosphere.

Don't believe me? goto the Borders Cafe at Sherman Oaks, its dead beat, boring, and empty, why? because they've sealed up the laptop charging ports. Hardly anybody wants to be there.

The reason the Borders Westwood is shutting is because of the crazy Lease which could not get renewed, and the decline of Book sales thanks to Amazon etc.


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