Behold the carcass, once proud.
Borders, the national bookstore chain founded in 1971 by two brothers in Ann Arbor, Mich., died a horrible death the other day .
It died with a line at the front door.
It died with its mouth shut, the employees forbidden to talk about it.
It died screaming like a carnival barker.
"NOTHING HELD BACK."
"EVERYTHING ON SALE."
This is what happens now, these brightly colored signs in the windows. There is no such thing as a quiet, dignified death in Big Box Land.
Even death is a buying opportunity.
Nearly 11,000 employees will be jobless once the liquidation is through. That began on Friday, a day after a judge OK'd the plan.
The company's CEO, Mike Edwards, sent an email out Thursday night outlining what happened.
"We put up a great fight," he wrote.
An outside company that specializes in liquidating took over the stores on Friday. Nearly all of the chain's 400 locations will close, including the four still open in Las Vegas. One local store, at Sahara Avenue and Decatur Boulevard, closed a couple months ago.
The chain's cause of death, industry experts said, was the ebook, the company's failure to adequately plan for a changing world, the economy monster that is eating at us all, and, of course, the Internet.
The Internet is killing everything.
The stores seemed busier than ever Friday, that first day of the end of days.
At 8:43 a.m., the line outside the still-locked doors at the Rainbow and Lake Mead boulevards location stretched 30 people long.
Why is the line so long, mommy? asked a little boy.
Because people like books, said the mom.
They just don't like paying full price for them.
The doors were opened; the people streamed inside. Mystery, Literature, Romance and Religion. History, Science Fiction, Young Adult and ...
"I'm going to miss coming into this bookstore and just reading for the pleasure of reading," said Melisa Tremblay, who was sitting on the floor in the history section, reading. "And I usually leave with the book I'm reading."
She went to the store on Friday looking for awesome bargains, but it was more than that. Partly it was to pay her respects to the store, and to the books.
"You find such a different world and a different place in books," she said, still sitting on the floor. "Books introduce you to so many different things."
She carried a basket with her. She had fantasy, romance and history.
The line then, an hour after the front doors opened, had moved to the cash register. It stretched into the Mystery section and ended just shy of Literature.
Phones were ringing off the hook. Employees were running around with signs.
10 PERCENT OFF!
20 PERCENT OFF!
40 PERCENT OFF!
"We've been shopping here for quite a long time," said Jessica Workizer, who carried a basket full of books. She had her kids, Makaylah, 12, and Savannah, 10, with her.
Workizer was buying five Harry Potter books (she already has the others), some Shel Silverstein and a few others. This was mostly for the kids.
"We love books," Makaylah said.
"It is really sad," said the mom. "We were shocked when we saw this news on the Internet. And then we got the email from the CEO? That hit all of us."
And so, soon, there will be a real estate problem to solve. Another group of gigantic stores will be empty, joining Circuit City, Linens & Things, Tower Records and all those other stores nobody remembers.
Didn't we used to have a Mervyn's here?
Of course we did!
Someone will move in, some store will sell things on shelves that used to house books. The magic of those books will be gone, but maybe commerce will thrive again.
Maybe Chuck Norris or Celine Dion will open up a shop in one of the former Borders locations where customers learn how to kick butt or sing, depending.
And maybe that shop will survive, if the Internet doesn't kill it.
The Internet is killing everything!
Contact reporter Richard Lake at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0307.