Books

Further thoughts on the loss of Borders Westwood

Mark at LA Biz Observed has been watching the slow demise of the Borders chain, and in particular the Westwood Boulevard store near his home. Now Gendy Alimurung of the LA Weekly reports on the sad scene inside — and catches up with a co-owner of The Sisterhood Bookstore, which was driven out of business after 27 years when Borders opened across the street.

The Borders employees with the most to lose (i.e., the full-timers) were busy assuming the fetal position. One of them, Camilla Ostrin, had reached acceptance.

"It's an interesting-slash-horrible time," she says. "Most of us are, I'd say, upper-lower-class."

Only half own cars. The other half bus or walk in. As a floor-level bookseller, you're expected to know a lot but toil for little. Of the 30 or so total employees, she knows of just three who have secured other jobs within the Borders universe.

Ostrin has worked at the Westwood location for 12 years and is in the same boat as the rest of the Borders lifers. She does not know what she will do after the store closes. She does not have a new gig lined up. That's no big deal to the part-time college kids schlepping in from nearby UCLA. But entering the job market in your late 40s and 50s, in this economy, is difficult, to say the least.

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

Adele Wallace, who owned the Sisterhood Bookstore shop with her sister Simone, is now a librarian at the L.A. Public Library's Fairfax branch. Alimurung asked her how she feels about Borders closing: "Frankly, I feel like dancing on their grave."


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