Bookstores in Trouble

Friday, March 21, 2008
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Sadly, Borders Group, Inc. is in trouble and it’s up for sale. More and more of these companies continue to drop as consumers pinch pennies on wanna-have but don’t-need items. I listened to analysts talking about this on Bloomberg yesterday, and they don’t seem to really get it. There was a discussion of ways in which Borders can improve sales, and one of them was new book club memberships to be offered by Borders. “New” book club memberships (whatever that means) won’t save this business. People don’t want to buy memberships when they can shop online and have greater selection, better prices, and enjoy the surfing experience. Borders is also going to “face out” more of its books, but that’s not a long-term solution either.

Borders problems go beyond the looming economic pickle, however. As book lovers know, surfing for books online leads to you discovering many other books that weren’t formerly on your radar map. Soon the wish list grows and grows, but it’s a fun way to relax. Plus you come across great reviews and interesting people with fabulous book lists that lead you unto even more discoveries. Book shopping online is a better and cheaper experience for most people. Then there’s those great deals on used books — I even find good books at .01 plus $3.99 shipping.

As much as I love bookstores, two big book chains can’t survive in this era. It’s too costly for them to operate, and people just don’t read anymore. Each new generation reads less than the one before it. (Read “Why People Read Less and Less.”) The large-selection, used book stores and the magazine racks are better bets for survival.

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