Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why Borders Failed - IMO

First thing I want to state is that I was one of the legions that loved to go to Borders.  I remember sprawling in the aisles with my shoes off and a pile of books to my side, reading joyfully, with no concept of time, then taking my tower of treasures to the register and buying as many as my allowance would allow (hence the origin of the word 'allowance') and staggering home with them in the white plastic basket with the pink plastic flowers affixed to the front of my Schwinn.  And this was in my twenties.  I loved that bike.  Me and a roommate bought it for $20 at a yard sale and when we had no dough, would ride it to the shops.  And Borders was one of them.  But I digress.  Let me tell you, in my opinion, the one reason why Borders was doomed.

They never came up with an e-reader.

As an ebook publishing gal, that hurts the most.  When Amazon burst onto the scene with the Kindle, the publishing world lost its collective mind and formed its two camps almost immediately.  The righteous lined up quickly on the right, claiming that nothing would ever replace the touch and feel of good old paper and script, while "early adopters" like Stephen King got busy and immediately began publishing astonishing tomes only available to internet purchasers, angering his literati brethren.

Then Amazon began revealing that their kindle sales were demolishing their print sales and Barnes and Noble went "Pardon me? Can you repeat that?" and shortly announced their own e-reader, The Nook.  Determined to one-up Amazon, they then introduced the Nook Color.  While the e-publishing world continued exploding all over the place, Amazon kept introducing slicker, sleeker versions and reducing the price! 

And Borders introduced......nothing.

And then the Queen of all things literary, J.K. Rowling, went back on her own solemn vow and announced that the Harry Potter books would indeed become available in digital version later this year.  The epublishing world went bananas again and finally Borders said, "We give up."  They forgot a business golden rule.  No one will buy a company in the middle of a literary technological revolution that has refused to acknowledge that it is in the middle of one.

And so we say goodbye to what was once a literary powerhouse, a haven for all the glasses geeks we used to be, and I say it is a sad day, but one that a writer of e-books should rejoice in.  With death comes life.  With termination comes rejuvenation.  With surrender, rebirth.  No longer is the ebook the nasty stepsister or forgotten cousin of the revered and lofty printed version.  Now, the ebook can hold its head high.  Even Harry Potter is digital now, damn it.  Does my book come in print?  No, but you can get it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and in eleven other digitized formats and they, my friend, they rule the world.

Just pray we don't have a power outage.


  1. Loved the post, completely true. So what would we do if we all digressed into the dark ages where we had no technology or central heating, I think we'd be doomed.

    You can self-publish a paperback through CreateSpace, it's an amazon run publish on demand service which I am going to be using (:


  2. I'm pretty happy with both of my publishers so far, Joseph but thank you for the info. Do let me know how your experience goes....I'd love to know!