Well it seems that Borders was unable to find a sucker to buy their dying business model and are looking to start liquidating their assets as soon as Friday. I’m a man who loves bookstores but feel no sympathy for Borders and really could care less that they’re going away. Borders is a classic example of a company that has failed to evolve with the changing times and thus it’s time for them to go away (unless the government gives them a bailout or some such nonsense).
In the era of e-readers less people are buying physical books because it’s inconvenient. In order to get a physical book you must either go to the book store or order it online, have a place to store it, move it around when you’re cleaning or moving, etc. With an e-book you simply tell your software to purchase and download the book and you’re reading it in less than a minute in most cases. An additional advantage is the fact that you can take your entire e-book library with you wherever you go whereas you’re limited to the number of physical books you can take due to their size and weight. The bottom line is e-books have a lot of advantages whereas physical books have few (they can still sit on your shelf so when your friends see them you can feel all superior because you read “better books.”).
Barnes and Nobel was smart and jumped onto the e-reader bandwagon pretty early. Their first and second entry into the e-reader market were not to my liking but the new Nook is an amazing piece of hardware. In addition to jumping on the e-reader bandwagon Barnes and Nobel was also smart by trying to add value to their stories in the form of coffee shops and free wireless Internet access. Although I wouldn’t say Barnes and Nobel stores are out of the woods I do believe they’re on the right track to maintaining relevance in the age of advancing technology.
Borders was fucked the second they decided to ignore the e-book market. They signed their own death warrant in the form of trying to maintain a dying business model even after it was apparent that they were facing bankruptcy. On top of that I don’t remember ever walking into a Borders and actually finding a book I was looking for. Barnes and Nobel stores usually have pretty nice science fiction and history sections whereas the I find the same sections at Borders to leave me wanting. I’d just pass this off as me having esoteric tastes but I hear the same arguments from many people I talk to who are into completely different genres.
Much like buggy whip manufactures of days gone past the days of general bookstores is going away. There is still a market for niche bookstores that maintain titles that aren’t easily found elsewhere but it’s a niche. Now the book market belongs to e-readers and online retailers. When people want to order a physical book they usually do it online nowadays because it generally saves a butt load of money (I almost always find the price for a physical book on Amazon is noticeably less than at Barnes and Noble).
So long Borders. Part of me wishes to mourn the loss of a bookstore but you never really served a need in my life. Should Barnes and Noble go away I’ll mourn as their stores have provided me with many titles but Borders never had what I wanted so there isn’t even sentimental loss in their departure from the market.