Doors to close at Borders

The Borders bookstore in Glendale will close by April as part of the bankruptcy plan the Michigan-based retailer unveiled Wednesday.

The company is closing 200 underperforming stores across the country, including locations in Pasadena, Sherman Oaks and Los Angeles.

The Glendale Borders is in the heart of the city’s busiest commercial district, at the corner of Brand Boulevard and Broadway. For the past three years it has had competition from the Barnes & Noble bookstore inside the nearby Americana at Brand.

On Wednesday Glendale customers said they were surprised and saddened.

“It’ll be a shame,” Glendale native John Carrera said as he leafed through a book in Border’s glass-walled second-story lounge. He said online booksellers are unlikely to attract his interest. At Borders, he said, “You can see the books themselves and get a good idea what is out there.”

Christy Downey and her husband Ryan sat at a table by the downstairs café, reading and working on a laptop computer. They said they come to Borders often because it is close to their Glendale home, staff are friendly and the environment is more relaxed than at nearby stores.

“You can sit on the floor and read, and no one asks you to get up and leave,” Christy Downey said.

Staffers declined to say how many people work at the Glendale store.

Borders is across Brand from the former site of Mervyn’s, which remains vacant more than two years after the clothing store company went bankrupt.

Helen McDonagh, president of the Downtown Glendale Merchant’s Assn., said Borders “leaves a glaring, vacant hole in our downtown. We need to get someone in as soon as possible.”

Last year, city leaders reported that retailers were interested in the Borders space, as even then speculation surfaced that the company would scale back. Emil Tatevosian, a deputy director in the city’s community development department, said Wednesday this is a challenging time to find new tenants because few retailers are in expansion mode.

Officials with R.A. Glendale LLC, the company that owns the building at 100 S. Brand Blvd., could not be reached Wednesday.

Bookstores have come under increasing financial pressure because of the recession and the rise of online booksellers such as Amazon. In its bankruptcy filing, Borders Group Inc. listed five publishing houses to which it owes between $25 million and $41 million each.

Local booksellers offered mixed views on how the closure might affect them. At Mystery and Imagination Bookshop on Brand, co-owner Christine Bell said, “In general, I believe the more bookstores the better.” But she said Borders customers are not the same as those who come to her shop, which specializes in science fiction, mysteries, collectible books and first editions.

Across the street, Brand Bookshop manager Noriaki Nakano said last week he believes his used-book store benefits from the presence of the chain bookstores down the street.

FOR THE RECORD: This corrects an earlier version that incorrectly stated there was a Borders at the Burbank Town Center.

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