Sunday, March 27, 2011

Support your local bookstore

As anyone interested in books is no doubt aware, Borders Books is in bankruptcy and has begun to shut down some of its stores, including two full-service locations in or near Macomb County: Utica and Grosse Pointe (both of which currently have huge markdown sales underway).
There is still at least one Borders Express (a no-frills store with no cafe, music or DVD sections) still open, in Roseville on Gratiot Avenue near 13 Mile Road, behind the Panera restaurant. It's a decent place to shop, but not to hang around.
You may not care that there are fewer Borders stores to visit. After all, there are still a couple of Barnes and Noble stores, independent stores (notably New Horizons on 13 Mile Road and Little Mack), second-hand stores and online stores. But Borders is a Michigan-based business, and if it fails it hurts us all. Besides, it was my favorite chain.
It has made some bad decisions, such as delaying entry into the ebook market and a less-than-friendly shipping policy on its website (unlike Barnes and Noble and Amazon, it's never free, not even on orders of $25, unless you pay an exorbitant annual fee).
But Borders also had other features that appealed to me. First, they have computer terminals in the store where you can search for titles without bookseller assistance and even check availability at other locations. Second, they reimburse you for a small percentage of  your total purchases in the form of "Borders Bucks."  Third, if you applied for a free Borders Rewards card, you received coupons twice weekly, good for discounts (typically 20 to 40 percent off) on a single book, DVD or CD purchase.
I'm not sure if they're still offering the free card, but lately they have added a Borders Rewards Plus card, for an annual fee of $20, with which you receive deeper discounts (about an additional 10 percent on coupon purchases, plus a smaller discount on all purchases).
It's too soon to tell if Borders will reverse its course and survive or thrive, but I wish them luck. I like finding a book on the shelf rather than online, discovering new titles while searching for another. Soon we may be reduced to searching Web stores, using print-on-demand services or downloading ebooks. In the meantime, support a local bookseller.


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