Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rant: What The Hell Happened To Borders Bookstores?

I got my first DVD player at Christmas of 2000, and in January 2001, I hit both Tower Records and Borders pretty hard in buying a lot of DVD's for the first time.

Tower is gone. Is Borders next?

I ask because of a few reasons:

One, stories like this always make it sound as if Borders is on the verge of going under.

Two, the evidence. All of the Borders stores that I visit in the D.C. area look like they are getting rid of the majority of their DVD stock.

Inexplicably, Barnes and Noble somehow beats Borders in DVD sales.

I find this a bit odd as Barnes and Nobles' prices are usually list and the best you can get is some rare sale OR pay to join the "club" and get a Barnes and Noble card and get maybe 10% or 20% off of a purchase.

Borders, on the other hand, has a free-to-join Borders Rewards program where you can get sometimes up to 40% off with a coupon.

And even if you don't get that kind of deal, there are always Borders coupons available via a quick Google search every week; at a minimum, you can find a 20% off coupon within seconds.

Add to this that the DVD sections at most Barnes and Nobles stores are so tightly packed that it's awkward to even browse them -- they look designed for photographs, not actual shopping.

So, as early as 2001, my friends and I quickly gave up on buying DVD's at Barnes and Noble and switched to Borders.

Another important factor in our decision was the fact that -- at the time at least -- Borders operated like a little cousin of Tower and seemed to carry at least one copy of most DVD releases. If Something Weird or Blue Underground or Tai Seng put out a DVD, you could be reasonably sure that a few of the Borders stores in the area would carry it.

Now, every Borders I go into looks like they have cut the DVD section in half.

And most of those offbeat titles say "online only" when you look them up on the inventory kiosks in the stores.

If Borders closes, will there be anywhere left for a geek like me to simply shop and browse? I don't buy much prerecorded music in America anymore so that limits the few record stores still in existence and, apart from the comic book stores, there are no stores where it's fun to simply browse and find something cool to purchase not at full list price.

Borders wasn't Tower but they were certainly better for shopping and a leisurely browse than Costco or Walmart, eh?