At 10:10 p.m. Thursday, this email subject line popped up in my Gmail: "A fond farewell ... thank you for shopping at Borders." It was a goodbye note from the bookstore chain, announcing its recent decision to close its remaining stores and thanking me for being a member. The clutch line, buried in several paragraphs of text, was this: "Going out of business sales start Friday, July 22."

First thought: Sadness! This Borders liquidation thing is really happening.

Second thought: Sale starts Friday?! I must be there! In fact, I will be there at 8:30 a.m. to beat the rush. "I am so smart," I thought. This feeling was reinforced when I woke up Friday to another Borders email (timestamp 3:26 a.m.), this one less sentimental, more in-your-face "40 PERCENT OFF, EVERYTHING MUST GO!"

It's all right, I thought. Hitting up the State Street Borders (the only one I know still exists) at 8:30 a.m. is still a good strategy. It'll be before anyone else knows about the sale, and who besides me even knows that Borders opens at 8 a.m.?

OK, apparently everyone knows that Borders opens at 8 a.m.

I got to the store around 8:30 a.m., and it was mobbed. The cash register line was already snaking past its long corral. Some middle-aged guy's vision was obstructed by the stack of books and Harry Potter Lego sets he was carrying. I saw several folks grab discounted "Rango" DVDs—a great deal since that just came out.

By 9 a.m., the merchandise was not quite picked over, but it was almost there. I had to make do with the wrong brand of travel book that I wanted, and already Borders was out of Evelyn Waugh.

It was kind of sad to see a bookstore I've utilized—admittedly not as much as I could have—be ransacked. I guess I'll have to console myself by watching the entire Paddington Bear stop-motion series (remember that??) on DVD, a steal at $3.99.