probably my last entry ever on borders books.

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.)

17 thoughts on “probably my last entry ever on borders books.

  1. Tam says:

    I do not yet have an e-reader, although one is coming in the near future.

    (For those of you who suggest I read books on my desktop or smartphone: Cordially, no. I’m not gonna squint at the Android to read a 400-page novel and I can’t drag the tower and monitor out to the front porch to chill in my reading chair.)

    As a Very Serious book consumer, I would reckon that 95% of my new book purchases over the last five years have been delivered to my front door in cardboard boxes with smiley faces on them. And New Book Purchases are only about half of my book-buying budget; the remainder comes from used book stores. Your meatspace business model has dropped the ball for me in the 21st Century. I’d suggest fixing it before the remaining dominoes fall…

    Best Suggestion Thus Far: Larry Correia was right. Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million did their best to remain book stores. Borders turned itself into a music/DVD/CD/tchotchke shop/coffee bar that also sold books. Now they are dead. Take from that what you will.

    • Ian Argent says:

      A someone who had been doing the ebook thing since about 2002, starting on a Palm Vx; when I got my tablet I switched over to reading them on it exclusively despite the additional convenience factor of the smart phone I have. Part of it is the slick ebook app ASUS bundles with the Transformer (kindle app is weaksauce comparatively), but most of it is having the screen the size of an open trade paperback. Calibre lets me convert to epub, which is what the reader takes, and lets me remotely access my library.

      Tub-reading safety safety provided by zip-loc, incidentally.

  2. Steve Brewer says:

    Of course the problem with ebooks is that you don’t really own them. You’re just borrowing them at a hefty price. Can’t share them, can’t give them away.

    • Rob says:

      Not really, no. If you know a bit about computers, or if you buy DRM free books, neither of those things is true. DRM can be cracked, backups can be made, and there really isn’t any way for the publisher or any of the stores like Amazon to completely control what you do with the file once it’s on your computer. They can try, but it’s a Sisyphean task.

  3. […] they did themselves in after all. Via Marko. Not to mention this Larry Correia account via Mike […]

  4. The B&N in Hangover isn’t too bad. Small, but they’ve got a decent selection.

  5. Gaston says:

    I just cannot leap to e-books. After Amazon yanked content right off customer Kindles because Amazon did not have copyrights, and the irony was that one of the works was George Orwell’s 1984. Maybe I am too paranoid, but US Customs perusing my electronic data at the border without a warrant, EMP wiping out content, or remote surveillance just are not issues with real books. I will reconsider, when you tell me how I can get an autographed copy of your next best seller as an e-book?

    • Ian Argent says:

      Don’t buy from Amazon, then. Nobody can remotely delete any of my ebooks, and I have backups scattered hither and yon; something, a noted, you can’t do with dead tree.

  6. glamdring says:

    Steve Brewer you actually can do both those things with Ebooks. You can also check them out of libraries.

    So far ebooks have been more durable than deadtree books for me. Have been using ebooks over a decade with zero losses. During same time period have lost at least 3 deadtree books from simple use, the bindinds give out fromm being read few dozen times.

    If there is fire in my home tonight the few thousand deadtree books I have will be gone but ebooks will still be there all I need is access to net.

    Another neat thing is ebooks are searchable. So are the notes & highlights you put in them. Say your looking for load Elmer Keith used in some rare caliber & you know you make your own index entry for it in your boook. But can’t remember which book it is in, with deadtree boook you have to search each one till you find the entry in toour index.

    With ebooks I can search whole library in couple of seconds.

  7. LittleRed1 says:

    My eyes do not like Kindle, Nook or other e-readers for some reason, bifocals or no. Until that gets sorted out, if ever, I’ll stay with dead tree editions that I can annotate (non-fiction), pass along, or hurl at a wall in frustration (“great Oogly-moogly was your copy editor drunk when he/she/it let that slide?!? And what in the sam hill were you smoking that you didn’t catch it when you read the proof?”). Or on rare occasions, sail into the dumpster with a sense of satisfaction that perhaps I’ve saved some other poor schnook from having to read that piece of [censored] for class.

    • Marko Kloos says:

      The Kindle lets you highlight/annotate (and share those annotations), increase text size to huge scale, and (soon) loan books to other Kindle users. Ebooks aren’t perfect yet, but those readers are getting better with every new generation of devices, and I have to admit that they have some major advantages over print books.

  8. Chrystoph says:

    The major problems that I have with virtual literature is the insistence on exclusivity in the industry. When publisher X is the only one carrying the book, it reminds me of the console video game industry. You need to have an X-Box 9000, a Playstation Mk 25 and Billy-Bob’s One Off Entertainment Device.

    I sincerely feel the publishing industry failed when they sent for this particular pie.

  9. breda says:

    I think you should open a little bookstore. With cocktails.

  10. Littlered, try the Nook Colour. High-intensity white text on a black background in any font you like. Great for any trouble going, as a rule.

    Reason H. Science, I spent a decade (part-time) doing ancient manuscript preservation/recreation for the British Library, and I adore eBooks. Been reading that way since the Palm III. It’s the Future. Yes, it means fewer people will know the bliss of turning a hardcover page-by-page, it’s scent intermingled with good cigar, fine cognac and woodsmoke as you sit with your legs draped over the arm of an overstuffed leather armchair.

    Hey. Elitist can be pretty fucking sweet. You know?

  11. LittleRed1 says:

    Thanks for your suggestions and recommendations on Kindle and Nook color. I’ve made notes and will keep them in mind for the next time I’m in a position to be looking at e-readers.

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