Letter from the editor.


After we printed the first issue of Bookmarks almost 10 ten years ago, I spent some time researching the largest independent bookstores in the country. Then I sat down for a day and handwrote a note to each to send along with a package of five magazines. "Put them on the counter, see if they sell, and let us know if you'd like more" was the gist. We got some nice, friendly replies, along with some orders. It was a great start, but what really made the difference for us was getting placed in Borders and in Barnes & Noble. We were in thousands of stores instantly. We didn't talk too much about it, because it wasn't cool to mention the chains: they had a bad reputation among the literati, and we all felt responsible for supporting the independents. (Moviegoers had their heartstrings pulled similarly with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail.) Even though the chains made our business, they were supposedly destined to kill off the independent bookstores.

The chains did cause some indies to close. But most of those bookstores I contacted a decade ago are still standing. But Borders is about to disappear. And such is the state of the book business that even the hippest among us can't celebrate that. I discovered Borders during the summer of 1993 when I was working for General Mills in Minneapolis doing market research in the yogurt division. Here was a store with tables and tables of books (much more fun to shop than shelves), a terrific newsstand with depth (great for a magazine lover still years away from starting his...

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