This article on the decline and fall of Borders—and the management decisions that were the direct cause of them—is a very good read, and a glimpse into the corporate mindset I’ve come to loathe after working under it for a while as a tech monkey.
The money paragraph deals with Borders’ absolutely bone-headed decision to outsource their online business to their competitor Amazon.com:
In 2001, Borders would go on to partner with Amazon.com, allowing the online book retailer to handle their internet sales for them, if you can believe it. There’s a photo of Jeff Bezos and then-Borders president and CEO Greg Josefowicz shaking hands to celebrate the partnership. Josefowicz has weatherman hair and a broad smile, and he’s beaming past the camera with the cocksure giddiness of a guy who thinks he just got rid of all his problems because he sold his dumb old cow for a handful of really cool magic beans. But when you pull your eyes away from Josefowicz’s superheroic chin, you notice that Jeff Bezos is smiling directly into the camera with keen shark eyes. His smile is more relaxed, a little more candid than Josefowicz’s photo-op-ready grin. It’s the face of someone who’s thinking, I finally got you, you son of a bitch.
In the last year, I’ve split my new book purchases evenly between hardcopy from the local Borders, and online and ebook orders via Amazon.com and B&N. Now that Borders is history, and there isn’t a major bookstore left within 75 miles of here, it will be more like 90% via ebooks on my Kindle, and 10% via impulse buys at the local indie book store in West Leb. (What can I say? Getting books I want in 60 seconds via 3G while watching the kids at the playground really appeals to my Instant Gratification gland, and the Kindle is a slick device that makes it easy to haul around a stack of books.)