Thursday, July 21, 2011

Who killed Borders Books?

     By now you no doubt know, if you care at least, that Borders is closing its bookstores. There will be perhaps a few last going-out-of-business sales at the remaining Borders locations (a Borders Express on Gratiot , several not-too-distant Oakland County stores, including Birmingham, Beverly Hills and Rochester) and then the rest is silence.
     People who bought Kobo Book readers are being told to change their account and smartphone app from Borders to Kobo and to transfer their eLibraries.
     It’s too late to save the chain. More worrying is that some think this will hurt the book publishing and retailing business. That is, most analysts don’t predict Borders customers will simply move to Barnes and Noble or online services such as Amazon, but will stop reading and buying books altogether in favor of eBooks. And some say even eBook sales will decline without a Borders for eBook users to browse ("mooch") for new titles (
     Why did it happen? While the rise of online bookstore Amazon and eBooks are often cited, that hasn’t put Barnes and Noble or some independent bookstores out of business. One of the writers at our sister paper, The Oakland Press, blames Kmart’s bad management and corporate culture (
     I’d like to believe that, but I suspect Borders was just run by people who love books and weren’t interested in eBooks. They loved the bookstore experience and didn’t want to shop online, and didn’t think very many other people would either.
     Since apparently a lot of eBook readers went to Borders to browse, find books they like and then order electronic editions from Amazon, if brick and mortar stores don't sell eBooks IN their stores, they should seriously consider it.
     Personally, I would browse Amazon to find titles I’m interested in, then look for them at Borders. If I found them, I’d look them over. If I liked them, I bought them with a coupon (as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, Borders Rewards card members  -- a free perk -- would usually receive two coupons a week, good for between 20 and 40 percent off the price of a book). Sometimes it was a better price with a coupon than Amazon, sometimes less, but I had the book immediately and I supported a bookstore that I enjoyed going to.
     Now I guess I’ll have to go to Barnes and Noble (who occasionally send me a 15 percent off coupon; to get  better discounts, I’d have to pay an annual fee) and other brick and mortar stores and either pay more for the books or “mooch” like the eBook readers and order online from Amazon. Eventually I may have no choice but to buy an eBook device. But I’ll not go gentle into that good night.


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