I was sad to find out Borders was going out of business. I guess I'm partly responsible for that, after all, I haven't bought a book from Border's in a long while.
A few years ago Borders was my absolute favorite bookstore for technical books. I loved their large selection. I loved being able to pick up the book in my hand, skim through the book to decide if I liked the font, the pictures, the code. I wanted an author I understood. I'd look at the table of contents and see if it was laid out in an organized manner. I'd feel the heft of the book. I didn't like those 1000 page colossal universal references. Who wanted to plow through trying to read 1000 pages, or even holding it in your hand while you were trying to read it. I hated those floppy paperbacks that flopped around like a fish. I wanted a paperback, but with a little stiffness.
As I evaluated and read a multitude of technical books, I gradually began to form an opinion on the technical book publishers. Who I could trust, who just slopped books together to make a quick buck, what series had a poor concept, and who did a good job of making the writing readable. Out of that came my article reviewing technical book publishers.
As I would thumb through Border's collection, I would sometimes have a difficult decision between a couple of books. Which to buy?
In the past, say three years ago, I would eventually pick one of the books, and buy it. That was the Border hay day. Then they were the number one book store in America.
Well, Amazon happened. Amazon, after years of undercutting the prices of books, and not recording a profit, gradually won people over. I remember, with a little nervousness, purchasing my first book from Amazon, got their free shipping, it came in a week, and since I tend to have a couple of books I read at a time, I realized the delay was no big deal. The books arrived in good condition, I got a bargain price, and I was happy. I already knew I liked the book, I saw it at Borders.
Thus started Borders downfall. Once I purchased a few books from Amazon, I started going to Borders, like I always had, and like always, picked out the technical book I wanted, but instead of buying it right then and there, my curiosity got me. I wanted to read the Amazon reviews, and I wanted to see if I could get a lower price from Amazon.
In a way, I feel guilty about this. I used Borders to evaluate a book, and then went home and bought it from Amazon. This is the part of me that feels partly responsible for Borders demise, and makes me sorry to see Borders go away.
Then Amazon one upped itself and introduced the Kindle, followed by Barnes and Nobles Nook. The two eReaders took off, and where was Borders, not anywhere in the market. This accelerated Borders demise.
Now, we have Borders going out of business sale. They, like all companies, going out of business are gradually increasing their percentage discount to off load their inventory. I was there today, and they were giving 30% off on their technical books. That was good, I couldn't resist.
As usual, I hefted the books, went through the remaining inventory, found two books I liked, and I did what Amazon had taught me to do. I put them back on the shelf, and went home to look at Amazon's prices. Unbelievable, Amazon was still lower by quite a bit, and they had the books in an eReader format, which means Borders was probably raising its prices on its books, as it increased their discount. Good old Borders right to the end.
Unfortunately, Borders going out of business hurts us all. Who now is Amazon's competition? We will be ordering books we haven't seen. At prices we can't compare. How would you know if you got a good price or not? You wont.
We lost are check and balance, we lost our ability to look at the books before we buy, and yes, in the end we'll pay for it.
This article is in memoriam to Borders. I will truly miss spending many enjoyable hours thumbing through their books, and having a cup of coffee, while looking at my selections.