THE BLOG
02/16/2011 07:07 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

To the Employees At The Borders' Stores Scheduled To Close: Open A Bookstore

Just because headquarters can't figure out how to make your location viable does not mean you can't. You've got loyal customers, you know the shelves. You've been sitting behind the cash register for years now saying, "If it was up to me..." So, do it! Organize, approach Borders and say, "Okay, let's figure out a way to be creative here." They might be happy to have a positive PR spin.

Then track down the landlord and talk with them, they don't want a vacant hole in the wall, they want a tenant, because one tenant makes it more attractive for other tenants. So maybe you can work out a deal. Just give 'em a call.

Get people involved. Invite local school kids to come up with a name for your store. Hold a social where the members of your sci-fi book club mingle with your romantic novel book club members. Hold a contest for local musicians to write your radio jingle and then crowd source the funding to run the ad. Invite the high school debate team to come and debate electronic vs. classic books. Get local reporters to report on the story of "The Little Bookshop That Could." Invite local banjo players to accompany authors at readings (okay! bad idea!)

Yes, it's true that some forces are working against you, but when isn't that true in life? And yes, there are fewer independent bookstores out there, but you know why? Places like Borders put them out of business. So, Border's demise gives the indie a fighting chance, right? In fact, quite a few independent bookstores are doing pretty well. Word bookstore in Greenpoint, Book Court in Cobble Hill, and in our own rough and tumble downtown Detroit, Leopold's Books has been chugging along with an eclectic mix of quirky books, graphic novels, and offbeat magazines. There's a customer in there every time I stop by and they're always buying something.

The good news is there is help out there. After battling the mega book chains for years, the independent bookstores have come up with a wealth of tools to help the independent bookstore succeed. Poke around online, you'll see. Don't be depressed, this is going to be interesting. Don't be discouraged, okay, well, be a little discouraged, but just have a beer and order a pizza and then come out swinging. Sell what you love and talk about it all the time. Be creative and have fun.