Sunday, February 20, 2011

Goodbye Borders

From Sunday At Borders:
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I don't understand why everyone is in shock about the news that Borders went bankrupt. I knew they were screwed the last time I set foot on one of their stores more than a couple of years ago:

I was in a mall with Ivette killing time between appointments, and I had my Kindle. We were browsing the new arrivals section and noticed that one of my favorite authors had a new book out. I immediately opened the Kindle, downloaded the free preview for the book and left the store for the Starbucks elsewhere in the mall. Borders lost the sale, Starbucks at least sold two drinks out of this one.

Now I wouldn't even need to have the Kindle, I could just open the Kindle app from my phone and do the exact same thing. How the hell can brick and mortar compete against a digital product that is a 1:1 equivalent? I am not talking about art books, or relics/collectables/etc, I am talking about mass produced hardcovers and paperbacks that have zero physical value unless for example the author signs the item. And magazines are now headed in the same direction, now that tablets are starting to become mainstream and Barnes & Noble turned their Nook e-book reader into a tablet.

The funny thing here, for me, is that while I made the jump to e-books years ago, I still can't stand magazines in PDF format. It is as if there is a perception that the magazine has to be a certain size and the pages have to be glossy. I even went and took advantage of a crazy Amazon magazine subscription sale and got my first ever subscription to the National Geographic and what I am sure is the first time in 19 years that I subscribe to Road & Track (Peter Egan, the Lotus Seven and frames bent like a banana, if these things make sense to you then you are an old time Road & Track reader) .

I don't even know if I am going to miss Borders. I have had a Barnes & Noble less than two miles from the house for 14 years, not that I like it any better. The closest Borders is (was?) at least 7 miles (sorry, 20 minutes, here in North Virginia we measure distance in time, not in miles) away, and most of the times I ended up there was to kill time before a movie. The only thing that particular Borders had was space, including a really nice cafe area where you could park a laptop and write in peace, the Barnes & Noble here has a tiny Starbucks, just a few tables and too many douchebags that see it as a place to be seen instead of a place to drink coffee and read.