Tuesday, January 4, 2011
What happened to Borders?
I worked at the Borders in Madison, Wisconsin in 1992. It was great--in those days, the staff of a new store was hired before construction was finished, and the booksellers themselves assembled the shelves and unloaded the books from the trucks. Everyone had a section they were the expert on (mine was cooking), so somebody could always, always find a book.
Nowadays, Borders is definitely number three, after Amazon and B&N--or four, really, if you count Wal-Mart. They have the shittiest e-reader, and it looks like they're having liquidity problems. So what happened? Back in the day, they were the "cool" chain; B&N was busy seeming to overextend itself, and provided a much chillier, more generic experience. Now, Borders feels like a chain on its way out.
In the end, I'm not invested in any of the chains...I do still prefer the small independent bookstore experience to a big box. (If I want generic and commercial, I'd much rather order from Amazon, who will also sell me some camera lenses and a waffle maker, than drive down to the commercial strip for B&N or to the mall for Borders.)
But...what happened? How'd Borders go wrong?