The closing of the Borders store at Gresham Station is sad news for more than just the obvious reason that it represents a loss of jobs and commerce.
Since it opened approximately a decade ago, this particular store has served as a community gathering place, a cultural incubator and as a worthy spot to kill a few minutes of the day or to snag a last-minute holiday gift for that person who has everything.
Fred Bruning, the developer of Gresham Station, used to be fond of telling the story of how Borders came to town in the first place. When he first suggested a bookstore in Gresham, Bruning said, he was told not to do it 'because people in Gresham don't read.'
Bruning, who eventually moved to southeast Gresham himself, doubted the truth of that statement. Within months of the Gresham Borders' opening, that particular store was among the chain's most successful.
We have no inside knowledge of Borders' operations, but observation would lead us to believe that if all communities had supported their Borders stores to the extent that East County did, the bookstore chain might have survived. Even locally, however, the same factors that are affecting bookstores nationwide took their toll on business.
E-books and competition from online booksellers have reduced the foot traffic and number of purchases made in brick-and-mortar stores. But these electronic alternatives, while convenient, can't duplicate the ambience of an actual bookstore - where the shelves are packed with freshly bound volumes and where you might stumble across a title or topic that grabs your interest, even though you never would have thought to search for it online.