Borders UK has gone into administration, and I’m sorry to hear it. We need all the bookshops we can get, and I have a soft spot for several of the Borders stores – and not just because they have often stocked my titles in gratifying quantities (surely, though, that can’t be why the business has run into trouble?)
The very first Murder Squad event, way back in 2000, was held at a Borders store in Ellesmere Port. I remember it very fondly – in the nine years our collective of Northern crime writers has been going, the seven founder members haven’t all appeared together that many times. But it was a good evening, and not long after, we all appeared at the Borders store in John Baker’s York.
Here’s a confession, though. Not every Borders event I’ve attended has been quite so successful. I recall one event with Kate Ellis and Chris Simms – two first-rate writers – where the turn-out was thin (and if you discounted those who were friends of Kate’s, it was very, very thin!). But even then, we had a good time, not least in the pub afterwards. It was my first meeting with Chris, and I’ve been pleased to see his career take off in a big way since. He’s currently working on an interesting short story project with which I am likely to become involved – more news about this at a future date.
I can only hope that the business can be salvaged, and that those large and appealing stores don’t disappear altogether. Of course, like many writers, I have an especially soft spot for smaller independent bookshops. But there are some marvellous people working for the chains, and it would be really sad if many jobs were lost as a result of Borders’ inability to withstand the pressures of the modern book-selling market.