Monday, July 18, 2011

Thoughts on Borders Liquidation

I remember the excitement when Cincinnati (where I was then living) got its first Borders store. It was on the cutting edge then in combining music and books at one location. While I didn't give up trips to other bookstores or to the library, I did find myself going to the store nearest my home quite a bit.

When I moved to East Tennessee, I discovered that I liked the Borders stores in Knoxville better than the Barnes & Noble and BooksAMillion stores in the city. (The BooksAMillion in Sevierville is much better than the Knoxville store.) The Borders store also did things for the education community that were not replicated by the other stores -- such as an Educators Appreciation Day. Now, if the news reports are to be believed, liquidation of all Borders stores will begin as early as Friday. That's just 4 days away. I'm losing a familiar friend. I'm not very happy that it is my favorite of the area "new" bookstores that is closing. [I do purchase more books at McKays (our wonderful used book dealer).]

What does this mean? I've already begun to use the library more often. I also opted for a Kindle so gets most of my e-book business (unless something is DRM-free and can be converted). I will continue to purchase books at McKays, especially fiction books that I am not going to keep forever. However, it means that Barnes & Noble in Knoxville and BooksAMillion in Sevierville will now be vying for the dollars I spent at Borders. How will they win the battle for my dollars? They'll need to have the types of books that I'm seeking in stock! I often purchase local history books at an area bookstore, especially things by small presses or that are privately printed. If they can come up with some unique ones that I just have to own, they'll get my business. As far as bricks and mortar stores, the East Tennessee Historical Society's store probably does a better job here. Stock the mysteries on my wish list. I tend not to browse as much as I once did because my wish list of books to read is massive. Stock interesting social histories that bring to life the world of my ancestors. Neither of them do this very well. I usually do better at the used bookstore or for this type of book. Offer interesting cookbooks on the discount table rather than the canned ones that are always there. I don't want to pay $35 for a cookbook. I'll wait until it shows up at the used bookstore or until I find a deal on Keep some piano music books in stock. Borders definitely had the best selection of these when I was in the mood for a keyboard collection of some sort. I usually prefer stuff like Broadway hits, jazz, 70s music, TV tunes, etc. for the occasions when the music-buying urge hits. The bookstore that caters to my music mood will get that business because I want to look at the books before purchasing them. I generally won't be ordering these from Offer better discounts. They tend to only offer discounts on current bestsellers. If a discount is offered, it is only 10% (which basically, in Tennessee, means that they are paying your sales tax.) Why should I pay full price in the bookstore when I can order it online and have it delivered to my home for less? One thing against both of them is that they both charge for their "rewards" or "perks" cards. One thing that both already do right is that they both have coffee shops. I enjoy drinking a hot or iced coffee beverage while shopping.

When I look at my list of demands and my book habits, it's really a wonder that any "new" bookstore can stay in business. I guess I should be thankful I still have some. When Waldenbooks folds with its parent Borders, there will be many communities without bookstores.

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