A few months before the publication of Laura J. Miller's new book Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption, which deals with the rise of the megabookstore and the demise of the beloved indie book seller, Barnes & Noble opened yet another Dallas location right across the street from a Borders Books and Music. Miller, perhaps, could do book-signings at both. Or picket both. Or stand at the intersection of Preston Road and Royal Lane and voice her "dissatisfactions with individual and communal well-being."
Nonetheless, it still baffles me: Just why did Barnes & Noble open directly across the street from Borders Books & Music in Preston Royal? It didn't seem to make a bit of sense, considering that Borders location--the chain's first in the city more than a decade ago--is still its most popular local outlet; it hosts more local events and outta-town authors than any other Borders in town (Rick Reilly, the great Sports Illustrated columnist, will be there June 7 to pimp his new book Shanks for Nothing). And Barnes & Noble has a location not far away: on Northwest Highway, across the street from NorthPark Center. But as it turns out, Borders got a little worried about the new neighbor, and with good reason: It's a better bookstore, as far as chains go, with a better cafe, a better DVD section, a better kids' area and a better all-around vibe. (Same books, though.)
Borders was once a great all-around destination: When it opened in the early '90s, it was locally run by thoughtful staffers who treated the place like it was a little shop around the corner. The CD store, which was a separate part of the store till it was recently and rather callously incorporated into the main space, used to sell not only chart-toppers but also oddball indie releases and hard-to-find imports ranging from obscure Texas-Czech collections to rockabilly comps. But it has long since morphed into a generic, bland bookstore--like Barnes & Noble, which even has a chain (Starbucks) inside its chain store.
Lest it be outdone, last week the Preston Royal Borders debuted its new cafe area...which is now a Seattle's Best Coffee franchise. The whole eat-and-drink area's been remodeled, and now you can actually grab a decent sandwich to go with your overpriced joe. That's fine, as it goes, but I liked Borders Books and Music so much better when it worried about selling books and music. --Robert Wilonsky
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Dallas, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.