Ex Libris – Borders’ Bankruptcy

Generally, I’m a slave to technology, following trends and waxing poetic about iOS vs Android. But there’s one trend that I don’t think I could ever worship.

Digital books and eReaders.

Um, pass the real book, please. You know, the one that smells amazing and has pages I physically have to turn?

But unfortunately, my opinion is slowly becoming a minority one, evident by the recent news of U.S. bookstore Borders‘ demise. They just announced this week they were shutting down every remaining store.

There are so many ways technology makes our lives better, but I honestly don’t believe in this case that statement is true. And I’m desperately hoping Canadian bookstores can find a balance between sales physical books and e-books, that allows them to remain in business.

I don’t even care if they use my favourite book in their advertising,
ust say “No!” to the KoBo…


6 Replies to “Ex Libris – Borders’ Bankruptcy”

  1. The elimination of all paperbacks is something I could happening. If you want a real book…here is the hard cover otherwise go digital. I don’t like to read at length on my phone, laptop, or whatever digital device I own…but the times I have had the pleasure of using an Amazon Kindle I can get used to that quite easily. It would just be nice to see some savings from manufacturing costs passed on to the customers and I don’t believe that as quite happened yet.

  2. I have a Kindle that I bought mostly on a lark with Christmas money a year and a half ago. While I was relatively skeptical at first, the experience has been a great one, for a few reasons:

    -Size: A 700-page hardcover book detailing a firsthand look at 8 years of the Clinton presidency is something that’s just not convenient to carry around. It’s heavy and it’s bulky. Furthermore, while I LOVE books in all respects, the reality is that I barely have room for the ones I already have. At some point, something had to give, and being able to make a lot of my book purchases (though not all) digital ones has helped immensely.
    -Travel: This is half an issue of size and half an issue of convenience. Finish a book at an airport but either don’t like the airport bookstore prices, selection or business hours? Bam. An entire giant library at my fingertips, available in 1min or less, no matter what the time of day.
    -Lending: Yeah, I can lend out a physical copy of a book, and I often have. However, I’ve gotten a LOT of books back with dust jackets torn, covers dented or even with the occasional spill. Things happen; I once ruined a friend’s copy of The Once and Future King when my water bottle popped open in my bag and spilled all over it. With a Kindle, either through the formal lending function or just giving a friend I trust my Amazon login information (I have trusted exactly two people with this), I can lend out a book without having to worry that my $40 hardcover might get destroyed.
    -Price. $10-12 for a new release book instead of a $35-40 for a hardcover? Yes, please.
    -Syncing. Sometimes I forget a book, my Kindle or my iPad. But I always have my iPhone with me, which means I can pick up exactly where I left off in a book. It’s something that, when I got the Kindle, I didn’t think twice about, but quickly came to appreciate as one of my favourite features.

    I like physical books. I like the feel and the smell of them. I like the feeling of being surrounded by them, and I’ll never stop owning or buying them. However, just like I still like vinyl albums, floppy comic books and physically owning video games, CDs and DVDs/BDs, it’s hard not to admit that digital books have made a few things easier.

    But really, books aren’t going away. Not as long as there are people like us who like them, or, more pragmatically, as long as school budgets and everyday fiscal realities mean that every person having an eReader is an impossibility (and frankly, this will always be the case).

    Borders didn’t go bankrupt because of digital books. The last time they made a profit was 2006, well before the Kindle was introduced and digital books became a significant market. They went bankrupt because they spent far too much on expansion and on unnecessarily large stores with digital media centres and flatscreen monitors. They took far too long to enter the online sales game, by which point they’d ceded far too much ground to Amazon. When they finally entered that market, they paid Amazon to develop and maintain their online sales site, but charged MORE than Amazon for the same books. By the time they realized they’d made a horrible mistake, it was too late. The company’s been sinking since well before 2006 and well before digital books punched an extra hole in the hull.

    People aren’t going to stop reading and they’re not going to stop buying books. Say what you will about Harry Potter (I love it!) and Twilight (I dont!), but those are millions of copies sold that show that books can still sell, that selling books can be an event. The release of George R. R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons last week was an international event.

    Look at Chapters Indigo; they’re doing well. Now, part of it is their ownership of Kobo, but they’re still making good profits and their stores always seem to be busy whenever I’m in there and waiting 10-15 minutes in line with 4 tills open isn’t uncommon for me. Amazon’s doing even better. And yeah, part of it’s the Kindle. Some of it is that they sell MORE than books. Most of it is that they, like Chapters Indigo, sell books online for a good price, which is something Borders didn’t do.

    1. Oh I’m not a total hater, I should probably stress that point. I can definitely see their usefulness, especially when traveling. Anytime I’ve moved as well, I seem to have more “book” boxes than “kitchen” or “clothing” boxes, so I could also see the appeal of it there.

      I will also admit to not doing a ton (read: any) research into the exact reasons Borders closed. It’s not a huge leap to assume that digital books are taking a bite out of business for most bookstores, but the ones that will survive will be the ones that recognize this and adapt, rather than cross their arms and stubbornly insist that this silly “Internet” and “digital” fad will all go away…

      If David and Victoria Beckham’s new baby’s name can boost sales of To Kill A Mockingbird, then there’s still hope for humanity…wait, maybe not.

      1. Digital books are definitely changing the publishing industry, but I keep thinking back to something Brandon said a couple of months ago (http://comicstheblog.com/?p=2146) and then repeated a month ago (http://comicstheblog.com/?p=2416) when DC Comics announced that, starting in September, all of their comics will be released digitally on the same date they’re released in stores, which is a big deal in comics. Digital comics won’t kill the comic book shop: they’ll kill BAD comic book shops. Similarly, good book stores will find a way to continue, either based on diversification (like Chapters Indigo has) or through pure old-fashioned customer service and good business practices. There will likely be some market contraction as the bad stores go out of business, but good stores will consolidate. Ultimately, things will coexist and I can continue occasionally using my Kindle, iPad or iPhone as impromptu bookmarks.

  3. Physical books are losing ground because they’re simply not as practical any more. The range in price between a physical book and the e-Copy is going to get larger and larger over time. It will come to the point where a paper copy will be a luxury/enthusiasts item. As “Mr. Man” stated above, hardcovers will be the likely winner here.

    Paper books will survive, as long as there is a demand for them. And like there’s a demand for performance car parts, LOTR 12″ figurines, and binary watches, there will still be a demand for paper books.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s