So you probably know at this point that Borders filed for bankruptcy and is closing five of its eight stores in Chicago, and almost half of its 30 stores in Chicagoland. While I never shared the romance with it that Mary Schmich did–my gateway to Chicago and big cities generally was Hyde Park, and after the Seminary Co-Op it’s hard for a bookstore to impress me–I did appreciate that at least one of the two downtown locations regularly stocked my somewhat odd impulse purchases, like Eula Biss’s Notes From No Man’s Land or Ishikawa Masayuki’s Moyasimon 2: Tales of Agriculture, to name a couple recent examples. So while I’m sympathetic to claims that it was bad for small bookstores, it did maintain a respectable mid-list selection.

I’ve seen claims that Borders is going bankrupt because people aren’t reading, but this jumped out at me (via Sarah Weinman at Daily Finance):

During the quarter, we continued to have a challenge on the top line. Specifically in the first quarter, our bookstores generated negative comp store sales of 11.4%. Our core categories excluding multi-media performed better, declining by 6.8%.

In other words, DVDs and music actually seem to have done worse than books. Which wouldn’t surprise me; my casual observation is that my peers are making a slower transition from meatspace to digital with books than CDs (duh) and DVDs. Not that Borders hasn’t had struggles with e-books and the electronic marketplace; Barnes & Noble has done well while sales fell year-over-year.

And then there’s four CEOs in three years, not to mention mountains of debt.