Friday, January 21, 2011

A 'Bigger isn't always Better' Rant... And Borders Books

There was a small corner grocery store when I was growing up where the owner would run a tab for folks when they couldn’t afford to pay for the essentials. And there was a gas station in town whose owner would come out, pump the gas and wash the windows or chat while the tank filled. At the local bank, the banker would sit down and do almost anything to help keep you from losing your home.

The bank is still there, but it’s been bought by a bigger bank and all loans and options have to go out to the corporate office for approval. The grocery store and gas station sit empty and have for years. They couldn’t compete with the large corporate companies who offered better deals and prettier stores to shop in.

What, you ask, does this have to do with Borders? Well, a few things. I admit, when I first heard the news of Borders financial struggles I was disappointed for them, for the publishers who weren’t getting paid and for the readers, who undoubtedly would lose a place to buy their books.

But then I though about all the small, local bookstores, the ones who’ve survived anyway, that are owned by people who love what they do. At these bookstores, you are likely to find the owner running the cash register, stocking shelves and talking with the customer. Yes, they need and want to make a profit, don’t we all, but they manage their business in a way that allows them to keep their doors open, continue to do what they love and serve the communities they live in.

Do you think those who manage the 2nd largest bookstore chain in the U.S. love books? Maybe they do and maybe they love their corporate jobs, but it’s obvious someone didn’t manage the business right. If they had loved owning a bookstore and cared about the communities they put them in, they would have managed their business in away to keep their doors open.

I realize I’m leaving out a possible big player in Border’s troubles – the e-reader world we live in. There are big names dominating this market, too, and I understand they have their value. But folks, we have a say in how we are dominated and we do that by being aware there is more than one company selling books and e-books.

Small publishers sell their author’s books online. You can down load them to your e-reader or order a paperback version. There are small independents bookstores all around us and it doesn’t stop there. Look around your community. I bet you’ll find a lot of independent local shops who would love to have your business. And believe me, they haven’t forgotten what customer service is all about.


J. Coleman said...

The lawfirm I work for insists on buying all their office supplies from the local merchants and not OfficeMax or Staples. Their prices are bit higher because they can't buy in volumne, but we figure we're helping to keep them in business. I have to confess, I'm a Barnes & Noble fan, though. I'd hate it if our local one closed.

Sandy said...

I live sixty miles from the nearest book store --used to be thirty, but that one closed. I love picking up a book, leafing through it, reading a few paragraphs and then deciding to buy it. Can't do that online. No wonder I haunt my local library.

Gabriella Edwards said...

Okay, here I go: I'm an ebook reader, an ebook author, an ebook lover! I thrill at the instant gratification I receive when I see a book I want, hit the "add item to shopping bag" button, pay, and download that book.

Yes, ebooks are green, save space, and cost less, but my motivation is purely selfish. Yes, I suffer from Veruca Salt's "I want it now, Daddy!" syndrome, so I'm happy I have that option

I love walking into huge bookstores and smelling that book aroma, but I'm usually looking for a gift or picking up a gift certificate for those who love their hard copies. It still fills a need.

But the times, they are a changin', and I'm excited to see what the future holds.

Hugs, Tina! Nice "rant"!

Loretta said...

I loved the complete rant:) My mind went in several directions...I drifted back to the time of the corner grocery, where you could hear the screen door slam as you exited. Granted I was very young, but it left fond memories:)
I like almost every type of bookstore there is, small, medium, for Borders, I think there was some type of mismanagement, along with the e-book revolution.
I have an e-reader now, and love it. I too am an immediate gratification gal.:) But, I also love my "real" long as they're out there, I'll be buying them too:)
I'm fixin' (southern term y'all) to try the indie thing,and nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof (more southern memories;) but, I'm going to give it a whirl. It was nice to see someone else on here who's braving the tsunami:)
Thanks for the look back, the evaluation of now, and the glimpse of the future Christina...I enjoyed the view from all aspects!

Christina Wolfer said...

I like Border and B&N too, and until recently didn't even know how many local bookstores there were in my area.

I also like being able to download books to my Nook. It's easy and quick, but I'll try using other e-sources than Amazon all the time.

Let's spread the wealth, cause the big players aren't doing a good job with it.

Thanks, Ladies, for taking the time to comment.

Becke Davis said...

Great blog, Tina!

There aren't many independent bookstores left, and I do my best to support them. I was VERY upset when I heard JosephBeth might be filing for bankruptcy, but I'm also worried we might lose the Borders near my house. Yes, I have ties to Barnes & Noble, but I think it hurts the whole publishing business when any bookstore fails.

I can definitely say I'm doing my part by purchasing a lot of books!

Renee Vincent said...

I know I'm late to the party, but I just now caught up with things. And I agree Tina, small businesses love it if you can bring people to their place. I support a little gift shop in my area and they host signings for me anytime I want and of course, they sell my books there.
Great post!