Remembering the Borders bookstore in Novi, Michigan

Photo taken from dohaeng.com

Much like how I wrote about the CompUSA I frequently went to in the 90’s, I figured I should also write about the bookstore I went to for over 15 years, the Borders Books & Music in Novi, Michigan. From 1993 to it closing in 2011, it was the bookstore of choice for me. There was (and still is) a Barnes and Noble that was closer to me but I preferred shopping here due to the larger size and more variety.

Early memories of it involve me spending time in the children’s section of the store while my dad would look at computer books. I was absolutely into Star Wars as a kid and since this was the 90s and there were only three movies, the Star Wars books were how I could see more of the universe. I also occasionally checked out the strategy guides for video games while here, looking up any parts of games I was stuck on so I could go home and make progress. Another random memory were of the in-store music performances that would occasionally happen. One being of a woman doing scat singing in the center of the store with no backing music and my younger brother and I just being baffled by it.

Much like the CompUSA I mentioned earlier, it was located in the Novi Town Center shopping area, only a couple stores down from that. It outlasted that store by a couple years but it felt pretty obvious during that time that it wouldn’t be around forever. Much has been written about all the mistakes Borders made so I won’t go into those, but one of the signs for me was applying for a programming job at their corporate headquarters in Ann Arbor and then that posting eventually being canceled before I got to do an interview.

While it’s very unfortunate that there’s basically no photos of the store available online (I could have sworn there used to be some), there’s a few videos still up that show what the store looked like. This video of a car driving through the parking lot on the last day it was open shows the exterior, and there is a book signing with Dave Mustaine of Megadeth showing what a big chunk of the store looked like inside. There is also a video on the C-SPAN website of an author doing a reading inside the store in 1997, which doesn’t show that much of the store but is still a nice little 90’s time capsule.

There is actually a much better tribute to this specific store than this post, and that is on this blog here. It’s about how they essentially recreated that Borders in a room of their home. If I had known the store was selling off shelves and signs from the store when they were closing, maybe I would have picked a few things up. It’s an incredibly impressive job they’ve done with the room.

If you have any of the Novi, Michigan Borders, or the CompUSA and Egghead Software that were in the same shopping area, I would love to see them.

Books About Adventure Games

There’s a ton of books about adventure games and interactive fiction. Here are some of the ones I recommend:

Hardcoregaming101.net Presents: The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures

This is a collection of adventure game reviews from the site Hardcore Gaming 101. While it’s more focused on classic adventure games from the 80s and 90s, I think it’s a valuable resource for discovering old games and seeing how some people feel about some of the classic adventure games that everyone knows. If you bought the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality on Itch.io from a few years ago, you already own a copy.

What Is Your Quest?: From Adventure Games to Interactive Books

This book by Anastasia Salter is an excellent history of the interactive fiction and adventure game genres. One thing that really impressed me was the coverage of the fan game community that popped up during the 00’s. This is an era that’s rarely discussed in discussions of the adventure game genre, so it was a delight to discover games I was unaware of.

Jane Jensen: Gabriel Knight, Adventure Games, Hidden Objects

This is another book by Anastasia Salter that I really enjoyed. This one is a history of Jane Jensen’s career. While most discussions of her career only cover her time making adventure for Sierra during the 90’s, this also goes into great details of her time making more casual games in the 00’s, her games from her Kickstarter, and her career now writing gay romance novels. Jane Jensen is my favorite designer at Sierra so I loved hearing about her career in casual games and why she moved on to writing novels.

The Sierra Adventure

The Sierra Adventure is an incredibly detailed history of the game developer Sierra. While the book is written by a huge fan of the company, it isn’t afraid to cover games that were poorly received and mistakes the company made.