I enjoyed Borders most of the time, and our local store was one of the healthy ones but it is of course being dragged under by the rest of the franchises.
However, there were a couple of problems for me. When they had live music in the cafe, it tended to be really loud and there wasn't enough seating. I would have been absolutely cool with some decent CD piped in and a few more seats overall. But the thing that kept me away from Borders was the "Holiday" displays. They seemed to be going out of their way to keep it all very secular and some of it was raunchy. Their prices were also much too high on non-book items, including gift cards. So much easier to go to a mom and pop place downtown or order from Amazon. I am sorry and will miss their presence, but the high cost of gasoline also probably had something to do with it. Just in the last few months we also lost a swanky (for us) Joseph Beth booksellers. Similar problems. It will be replaced by Books-a-Million. I note on their Facebook page that they are running a big special on Bibles and Christian fiction this week, so I think we'll get along better come the holidays.
I used to love Borders. Then, we stopped going. About five years ago, Borders wrote me a note asking for a critique and I listed 5 reasons why I didn't shop there any more, even though I loved the store.
They eventually fixed one or two of those reasons about six months ago, but it was too late.
It all seemed to be getting a bit too boutique--both in types of goods offered and prices on those goods.
They've been flailing for a while...apparently, they tried a number of different 'shot in the dark' models to try to improve things...and none of them worked.
They didn't even carry my books. Apparently, I was not important enough. ;-)
I made the cut because I am a really local author writing about really local things. Had the first signing there actually, and thanks to a newspaper article, sold about 30 copies. Unfortunately we later discovered that a bunch of them were misprinted and had to be exchanged.
They carried John, which was nice.
I hit the two local stores -- one during lunch, one on the way home -- for the liquidation sale.
Then, still on the way home, I bowed to reality and stopped at Barnes and Noble to buy something and a B&N card. If that's where I get my books, it will pay for itself.
I must admit I LOVE my B&N card. Our local B&Ns are wonderful.
I'll still miss Borders though.
...Borders died. The shambling corpse only keeled over of late.
I tag it about the same as you, Jagi: somewhere between three and five years ago, the corporate nudniks
Here's a telling excerpt from a The Atlantic article:
I'm sure there is more to this story (especially in the financial and real estate areas) than I know, but what really hurt Borders from the perspective of a book person like me was that the chain was no longer in the hands of true book retailers.
Len Riggio, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and the successful independent proprietors, whatever their other business virtues and flaws, really have a deep attachment to books and the people who read them. But when Borders expanded, they brought in executives from supermarkets and department stores (all of whom insisted they were readers), and the result was a shuffle of titles and more downsizing against a backdrop of financial engineering, which only seemed to make matters worse. Ultimately, a successful bookstore, on any scale, depends on a specific understanding of how to make the most of the outpouring of books and the digital transformation that will attract readers. Whatever else Borders does in the months ahead, it needs to recover its belief that real book-selling is an art (with all the peculiarities that entails), as well as a viable business. -- http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/01/what-went-wrong-at-borders/69310/
Four CEOS since 2007, none of whom seemed -- in my opinion -- to show any evidence of being books readers.
Borders is simply a symptom of a larger disease afflicting the publishing world, as limned here and in affiliated columns by KK Rusch:
Though the local store was no more than five miles from my stoop, could get unstocked books faster by Amazon. Even though I begged to stop the endless unneeded coupon emails -- a customer who hardly stepped over the threshold without failing to drop a bill or two on books, I could never get the management to email advanced notice of author signings/talks.
Is this reasonable? If they get me over the threshold, I'd spend between $100 and $200, without caring a whit about coupons. [They required my home phone number for a Rewards card, a deal-breaker in my case. You have my email -- why require my phone number?] I could get almost anything I wanted from Amazon or Larry Smith. Why not attract me with the bait I explicitly requested.
But no. The management told me that I should try calling the store a couple time a week or attempt to decipher their useless calendar of events: 70 iterations of children's story hour but no hint of Charlaine Harris' signing [true story]. The removed the "Upcoming Events" signboard behind the counter.
Sigh. I enjoyed sitting in the soft, over-upholstered chairs and reading while sipping coffee.
Tell me, Jagi, is there a circlet in Hell for those who drive bookstores into receivership through mismanagement? There should be.
It is right next to the circle where people who reordered the letters on the dinner board for the dining hall at St. John's College have to eat the stuff they spelled.
It's very sad for readers, too. Their demise also means the end of Waldenbooks, which means our city will have NO bookstore. The only books available for sale will be at Wal-Mart. Thank goodness for Amazon, but I like to actually browse through a brick and mortar store from time to time. I'll have to save those times for a three-hour trip to Kansas City.
It's surreal to think I live in a town of nearly 50,000, and we won't have a bookstore. *sigh*
Maybe someone will buy out your Waldenbooks.
One can hope that a few of the successful stores will be bought by other bookstores. I think Juliet Winters mentioned that her Borders is becoming a Books-A-Million.
Nope, sorry, Borders just announced so we don't know about that, but Joseph Beth will become a Books-a-Million. I hear they have coffee!
When I was in college, friends came up with this nifty idea: a bookstore cafe. They tried it for a while, but it was before it's time and went under.
The first real bookstore cafe I ever saw was Borders. I thought it was heaven...and my friend's idea incarnate.
But, at least in our area, B&N now does it better.
Have you and I been to the Griffin? It's right downtown. When the weather's cooler, it would be nice. It's run by a bookish person who worked in the publishing industry. Mix of new and used.
I don't think so. I'll have to come visit again!
Some library catalogs (ours included -- www.librarypoint.org) now give you a browse feature so you can see what else we own in adjacent Dewey number, with covers if they are new enough to have them in the database.
Look up a non-fiction book and a shelf of related material appears.
We also subscribed to LibraryThing which does make recommendations for fiction depending on the first book you searched.
Example: for John's books, the recommend Charles Stross' Singularity Sky and Accelerando and The Collapsium by Wil McCarthy. Don't know how reliable it is, but it's something.
Wil McCarthy's not a bad match for John. ;-)
Borders may be the first to go under, but I wonder if the other big stores will be able to long survive the ultra-convenience and cheapness of Amazon. (And if they don't survive, amazon will have a monopoly and prices could rise). Powell's - the biggest used bookstore in the nation - is struggling here and had to let go of a number of employees.