Remember When Borders Sold Books?

borderswall.JPG
The Preston Royal Borders looks less like a bookstore than an art installation these days
I needed a book yesterday and happened to be driving by the Borders in Preston Royal, which did not have said book. Or many books, for that matter. There were, however, bins full of discounted tchotchkes, aisles lined with 2011 calendars (each selling for $4.99) and displays hawking T-shirts and backpacks and posters. The place looked like a Spencer's.

The kids' book section has been overrun with board games and LEGO sets -- so much so even the 7-year-old who lives in my house wondered whether it was a toy store or a bookstore. The formerly majestic music store, long ago the most smartly managed smorgasbord of popular titles and hard-to-find collections in town, has been reduced to two tiny, hard-to-find bins, almost all the discs discounted best-ofs. And, look, it doesn't matter how you feel about President Dubya, who lives nearby. But that wall full of Decision Points near the bathroom probably isn't the best use of space.

And then this morning I read this on Gawker -- yet another of its heartbreaking compendia of bad-news items for the bookselling chain, which is reportedly inching toward bankruptcy. Very reminiscent of Blockbuster's horror story -- slow to keep up with new tech, it's now either sell off or die off. But I do know where you can get a copy of Bush's book. Or 240, at least.
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23 comments
Flazmasta
Flazmasta

My wife has worked for Barnes & Noble for 16 years. Though this thread refers to Borders, I think the same issue applies - we are coming into a time when bookstores are having to restructure. I can't stand e-books, personally, but my wife made me borrow her Nook to read on my lunch breaks at work, and I grudgingly admit that it's a pretty nifty gadget. But I'm still old enough (33, BTW) to love BOOKS. Made of paper. I like the feel, the smell, the anticipation when you see that you're nearing te end. It frustrates me not only to see how many different product areas that these stores are trying to sell all of a sudden, but to see them lapse into the same retail mentality as all other kinds of stores. All of a sudden, the book business has become about units instead of BOOKS. All of a sudden, it is more important how many books an employee can sell. The important thing at B&N (can't speak for - or against - Borders because neither I or my wife ever worked for them) used to be that the employees were passionate about the books they read. The goal used to be that booksellers share their passion for books with the customers, and infected them with the desire to read. Back when I worked for the company, my favorite experience was when a customer came in with a required reading list for her Mythology class, and I found a couple of books that were on the list for her, then suggested at least a dozen other books on the subject that I had loved, and she bought them all and came back a couple weeks later for more. This is the kind of experience that e-books make impossible to repeat. It's kind of a sad trade-off for convenience.K. I'm rambling. Signing off.

guest
guest

All I wanna say is that we try, those of us working there day to day, we try so hard to find the books our customers are looking for. If we don't have it, we try to find it and have it shipped on Borders.com, and if that isn't possible then we apologize as we understand how much it sucks that we cannot carry everything in the store. So everyone reading this, remember...we are trying. But there's only so much we can control.

Pbudnick
Pbudnick

This bookstore had Bush there for his one an only booksigning, so they had a lot of books not knowing how many he would sign. It's not like every Borders has this wall of Bush books.

Nome
Nome

This is so true, no books more toys that do not SELL, children just come in and play with them and destroy them HMMMM where are the Parents??? Better yet where are the BOOKS??? So sad for Borders.

Bibliophile
Bibliophile

The downward slide in local bookstores started a few years ago: fewer new books, less display space relegated to books in general, more space relegated to discount items and non-book items, and now more space taken up by the electronic readers. Same thing is happening at Barnes & Noble. At least Borders and B&N haven't gone the way of the late great Taylor's Bookstore which was mixing used books into the inventory at the end. The Borders at Preston Royal was the premier bookstore in Dallas in the 1990s up until recently. Sad to see its decline.

LaceyB
LaceyB

Near the bathroom isn't exactly the worst place for decision points. I wonder if he made some of the major ones in there. Hmmm?

Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk

I'm no business major, but I think they ordered too many copies of George's book. Might explain why they're struggling.

DallasMan
DallasMan

Hope they can pull it together - I almost always find what I'm looking for at the Borders in Uptown.

G_David
G_David

It's hard blame a company for trying to stay relevant and make a buck or two - and by extension - stay in business. But this grasping at straws is pretty depressing. I just pray that Amazon never goes out of business, because it won't be long before that's our only option. Not that it's a bad option.

JS
JS

Thanks for the reminder to use the Borders gift card I received before Christmas -- I don't want that voided by the upcoming bankruptcy filing!

Gvinson
Gvinson

Despite your partisan pop offs (I guess you, much like Eleanor Clift or Monica Crowley on "The McGlaughlin Group," just can't help yourself), I appreciate the post. I used to spend a considerable amount of time at that particular Borders Books--especially while waiting for my Pizza by Marco order to be readied. They had a fantastic classics and ancient/medieval history section. The section is now a shell of its former self. Too bad. And what makes it wose is that the Barnes and Noble across the road is just plain awful. This city is running out of good book stores, and it makes me sad.

Lakewooder
Lakewooder

Dubya loves nearby, really? Like, in a Chevy out the parking lot or something? Where's TMZ?

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

Very disappointed in Borders myself lately. The one at Old Town keeps many of the DVDs locked up behind glass, so any time you want to buy one, you have to figure out how to find the guy with the key. I don't want to have to look all over the store for a guy with a key, and these ain't blocks of gold. All this idiotic policy does is discourage me from buying any DVDs at Borders. In case no one has told Borders' management, DVDs are selling pretty well these days. The last thing you should do is make it a pain in the ass to purchase them.

TimCov
TimCov

I've talked with people who worked at Borders (including in management positions). They all agree that the slide began when they were bought out and the new management tried to turn them into another retail box store chain.

Prettyhatemachine
Prettyhatemachine

Trust me, those of us that work at Borders wonder the same thing. Anything you don't like about the chain now (the seemingly endless questions at check-out, lack of books, thousands of damaged non-selling toys, etc) the employees hate, too.

voice of reason
voice of reason

You people are kind of idiots. You say how sad it is to see bookstores go, then talk about shopping at Amazon. Morons. Keep sending all your money to a small coterie of software engineers in Seattle. Then bitch about how your downtowns don't have anymore music or bookstores. People are so stupid. Amazon is an illegal business venture that the states will put out of business via sales tax law. Texas just assessed Amazon with a sales tax bill larger than their profit for an entire year. What happens when broke California, broke Ohio, and broke Illinois do the same thing? Bye bye Amazon.

TD
TD

Amazon is one of the biggest reasons the brick and mortar bookstores are going under!

guest
guest

I went tonight to Barnes + N Prestonwood (hadn't been there for years) and was very pleasantly surprised to find they have a whole shelf of what's also my favorite- ancient/medieval history

Daniel
Daniel

In their defense, shoplifting of CDs, especially at the Old Town location, was out of control. We're talking about the guys with a whole inventory who approach people at the train station -- guys who ply a marginal living by selling stolen CDs.

Bibliophile
Bibliophile

Pick your battles with someone else, voice of treason!. I buy and read more books in a year from Borders, B&N, and other real book stores than you'll read in a life time.

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