Borders and Kindle; I rant again

It’s not Sunday, but you can’t blame me for not writing on the day the Saints finally won the Lombardi Trophy; this was a day many of my friends had waited for. I watched to support them and to laugh at the Super commercials. Too bad many were not that funny. Oh but I loved Betty White’s zinger “that’s not what your girlfriend said”. She is one funny lady, even when repeating an old tag line.

No I took the day off, but don’t worry dear Readers I have things I need to get off my chest. Let’s start with Borders shall we?

Before you groan and roll your eyes, I have good and bad to talk about. It is not my fault Borders seems to always fall in my cross hairs; the company brings it on themselves. I will start with a positive comment. Others want to beat Borders up for throwing away books as they close their Walden’s branches, but I understand they are only doing what they have been directed to do by the publishers. If we are going to bash book trashing, let us bash the right organizations. The publishers demand this policy to be carried out and yet Borders is taking the heat. It really is not fair.
Friday night my son asked to go to Borders to look for a book that matches Star Wars characters with Zombies. The title of this masterpiece is Death Troopers authored by Drew Shriver. Shriver asks the age old question: What would happen if Han Solo had to fight Zombies. Being the good mother I am, and always eager to support Alex’s love of reading, we headed out.

The first thing I noticed was that once again Borders has changed. Gone are the Vampire books that used to greet customers as they walked in. Now the front of the store looks like it did prior to the Meyer and Co take over. I have to say I breathed a sigh of relief. Also gone were the mass pile of paperbacks. The store no longer looks like a garage sale gone horribly wrong. The books are shelved neatly and in a way that invites readers over to see what is new or hot. I found two wild book covers for Alice in Wonderland. I almost bought on because of the paisley colors even though I already own two copies of the book. Sadly the second thing I noticed was that there were only a handful of customers. But there could be many reasons for this, so I just enjoyed having many isles to myself. So far so good right? Almost…

As I made my way back to the science section I felt good about the store set up, that was until I saw the Vampire section.It had taken up the science section! Next to it was another section called Manga. Both of these genres now have their own large section at Borders. If you have ever visited Borders you know their sections are horseshoe shaped.

The science section used to take up a whole section but now it seemed to have disappeared. I moaned “where is the science section” as I widely looked around. My son shrugged and said “wow, if they have one, it is really well hidden”. As we talked a young clerk came over and asked if she could help me. When I told her what I was looking for she walked me over to a shelving unit (yes only one). Seriously? The science section is so rarely bought from it is regulated to a lone shelving unit? Is this a Borders decision or is my town lacking interest in science? The clerk asked if I was looking for something in particular and when I told her I was looking for On the Origin of Species the graphic adaptation she said she was not sure if it was in science or in the graphic novel area. So now all the graphic novels are in one section, no matter what the genre? I heard her ask another clerk who replied “oh I have not seen that book in a long time”. The clerk helping me then walked away only to come back a moment later. She had gone to look the title up and came back with a copy! Now that is the type of customer service Borders is noted for.

I then went over to the history section and once again was shocked to see it too was stripped down. Not only is it down to one horseshoe section, one side was bare! I count on Borders to have a healthy history section. I never like to buy my history books online. Too many times I find a book that sounds good is not. I like knowing I can go to Borders and look through these expensive books before I buy. As I stood and thought about this loss I saw to my surprise and delight the one history book I really wanted was right in front of me! Granted there was only one, but still I had to admit Borders had want I wanted. I picked up The Time Travelers Guide to Medieval England: A handbook for visitors to the 14th century.
So now I have mixed emotions. Borders seem to be trying to stay in business by shelving that which sells the most. Who can blame them? You can only make money if your product sells. And yes, I found what I came in for, but still, it hurts to see the nonfiction sections stripped bare. As more and more stores close in my town and small bookstores are almost extinct, it is hard to see Borders become a mass market bookstore. It did not work as Waldens, why do they think it will work in their larger stores?

Oh and by the way, to the lady who shushed me in the history section, I will say it again. It is a book store lady, not a lending library! Maybe if you bought the book instead of sitting there for over an hour reading it Borders may not have to make these changes… just saying.

Still with me dear Readers? Good cause I am not done. Now on to book prices. I find it interesting that many of my Kindle loving friends are finding the honeymoon is over now that e-books may start to cost more than $9.00. In case you have been busy reading and have not followed the latest news, Amazon had relented and will let Macmillan set the price of their books and all books published under their smaller houses. Macmillan wants to set their book prices at $14.99, the price of trade paperbacks. So now the question is will people pay the same amount for an e-book as a print book? If my Kindle loving friends are any indication the answer may be no, or at least not often. One of my friends said she will hold off on purchasing e-books on a weekly basis, another says she really has to reevaluate her affection for her new toy. Others have said they will buy new releases, because let’s face it; $14.99 is much better than $25 to $30 for a new book. Back at Borders I saw The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science. I really want to read this book but the price was $40.00. Who set this price and why? It is the same size as a normal book yet it sells for almost twice as much. There is no way I will pay this amount for a normal size book. Yes I have paid this price for a science book, but at least that one had pictures and covered half my coffee table.
Thankfully my library has The Age of Wonder; I just have to wait for it. If the price of books continues to rise, I wonder if both e-books and print books will fall in sales. I wonder if Borders will become smaller and carry even less. I wonder how this all will play out.

So dear Reader it is your turn, what do you think of the new price of E-books? Is it inevitable that the price e-books will rise or do you think there is a ceiling of how much someone is willing to pay for a virtual item? What would you be willing to pay for a new release, either in print or on your reader. As always I want to hear from you!

Author: sarij

I'm a writer, lifelong bibliophile ,and researcher. I hold a Bachelors in Humanities & History and a Master's in Humanities. When I'm not reading or talking about Shakespeare or history, you can usually find me in the garden discussing science or politics with my cat.

3 thoughts on “Borders and Kindle; I rant again”

  1. I understand why publishers feel they need to raise the price of e-books, and why they need to postpone their release long after the publication date of the more profitable hardback, but it's really going to slow the e-book adoption. Maybe that's a good thing? I don't own an e-reader, but am still toying with the idea of picking one up – mostly for magazines and newspapers. But to buy an e-book, the price would have to be SIGNIFICANTLY lower than I could get the book on Amazon or bn.com.

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  2. Sari I know just what you mean about book shops. I have just about given up on local book stores who have reduced their range in science, history, politics, and literary fiction to tiny collections, interestingly aside from the rise in vampire fiction the other area I have noticed growing is true crime, which I find curious. The future looks bleak for book shops I am afraid, I have tried to be loyal but I find I am resorting to the internet more and more. I am also getting better prices online. I hunt about for the best price when I can, but hardcovers are becoming prohibitvely expensive but I will still buy them when I just can't wait for a paperback and I have yet to join the digital reading revolution.

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  3. Greg, if I were to get an E-reader it would be the horribly named Ipad, because like you I can see myself using an E-Reader to read magazines.BP, Hardbacks prices are out of proportion to the rise of other books. The jump in price from around $22 to $35 in just 10 years times may be one reason people are clambering for E-Readers. I think publishers need to inward and come to terms with what the public will pay for books.

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