They’ve been screwing themselves for years. This whole “Borders shutting down” thing and the store closures earlier this year that were supposedly a stop-gap? Yeah, it didn’t just pop up over night. Every article you read out there has someone at Borders talking about how ebook sales doomed them. How convenient. No, the real genesis of Borders’ complete implosion is due to an idiotic state of mind in upper-management.
True story: When working at Waldens/Borders my two favorite authors were Steven Erikson and Brandon Sanderson (before he was big). At my store, Erikson’s novels out sold every other author. He was a moneymaker for my store. Soon my store was restricted from mass ordering his novels because we weren’t conforming to other stores in different states who would only sell a dozen of Erikson’s novels in a year (we sold hundreds of just his first book. Repeat customers baby!). With Brandon Sanderson? My store was essentially in his home-town of Provo, Utah. To all you authors out there, the average signing may net you 10 or so hardback sales if you’re lucky. My store? We sold 80 copies of Brandon’s first novel that had zero marketing push behind it. His second novel? Oh just 200. Borders’ response? “How dare you have all these extra copies of his books on hand. You’ll never sell that many books at a signing. in fact, maybe you should stop doing signings altogether.”
You see, Borders’ had the mentality of telling you what you were NOT allowed to do rather than giving bookstores the freedom to, oh I don’t know, make money. By breaking the rules we were raking in the cash. Unfortunately that wasn’t good enough. After all, the corporate goons OBVIOUSLY knew more about out local client base than the staff at my store did.
I have never been to a Borders but this makes perfect sense to me. Making all the stores in a chain exactly alike is typical modern management strategy. For some things (fast food) it works; for bookstores, not so much. People in different regions of the U.S. do have somewhat different tastes in reading and entertainment.
I first heard about Borders closing on the CBS evening news last week. They were, of course, singing the “e-books are killing bookstores” lamentations and, to be honest, I sort of bought it at the time but my first thought was, “This might be good for the independent book stores,” because a lot of people still do like real books.
Upon reading the linked article my already deep contempt for the mainstream media has deepened by several degrees. I feel that the bigger the idiot the more they need to be publicly shamed and held up as a bad example. But the media, instead of telling the truth tells us what so many want to hear: Borders good, e-books bad; world as we know it ending; trust your betters, and tune in tomorrow for the latest tragedy.