I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Demise of Borders

Photo: Ruthanne Reid
It became a ritual.

Every Friday night during the fall, several of my friends and I would gather at Borders to spend 45 minutes browsing the bookshelves before meeting in the coffee shop to chat. I rarely left without buying a book. I also rarely bought a CD or DVD because I had already made the change to iTunes and Netflix. But I wasn’t convinced about e-readers yet. I still had a romantic view of bundled paper held together by glue.

That was just two short years ago. 

Since then, I’ve purchased two Kindles and have been talking to a publisher about writing a book for them that would go straight to e-readers and then come out on paper and glue. After reading a couple of books on my first Kindle, I realized that books are words that inform and entertain and take us to new worlds. They aren’t paper and glue. Those are just the medium. 

Borders wasn’t convinced of this on any level (books, CDs or DVDs).

In fact, not only weren’t they convinced, but they continued to charge ridiculous prices for old mediums. One of the last times I walked into a Borders, I picked up a copy of the movie SALT to see how much they were charging for the non-Blu-ray DVD. The answer: $28.99! I was stunned to the point of snapping a photo with my cell phone, thinking nobody would believe me:

As of this writing, Amazon.com is offering SALT on Blu-ray for $15.44 and on non-Blu-ray for $12.60.

Rather than adapting, Borders either showed complete contempt for the new ways of delivering entertainment or they were oblivious to them. I’m not sure which is worse. But when the news came down that the chain was planning to liquidate its assets and close its stores by September, I wasn’t surprised. I was a little bummed though. 

Not everybody wants to read e-books. And that’s fine, as long as a retailer offers both choices (please don’t tell me the Kobo e-reader was a choice if you don’t know a single person who owns one), I think there’s a chance they could survive in this economy and publishing environment. But since Borders didn’t, people who like to read paper and glue just lost a huge retailer.

As for meeting in Borders for coffee, well, there are multiple other coffee shop options for my friends and I to hang out in. But losing a book retailer the size of Borders is never good for the industry.


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