Readers Without Borders

For many years I avoided buying books at Borders’ web site for the very reasons you’re probably thinking right now: they were overpriced and their stock was curiously limited. While I made regular browsing and buying visits to stores around Chicago (my son’s library was nicely padded out by their expansive children’s section), I dreaded receiving Borders gift cards. If I shopped at a Borders store, I’d have to search a hour or more for anything I’d like. If I shopped at the site I’d spend an hour or more trying to find what I wanted, then another half hour searching for a used copy at a price slightly higher than what I’d pay for a new book/CD/DVD at Amazon. Yes, white people problems, I know, but admit that it’s a little frustrating.

One day I thought, “Hold on a second. I used to order books through bookstores for years. If they didn’t have a copy, most stores—especially the chains—could search around and see if another branch had a copy.” Because of Amazon,  it’d been a very long time since I’d done that. Brilliant! Genius!

The next day I went to the Borders on State and Randolph. I found a clerk and told her I couldn’t find a book on the shelves, and a search on their computers revealed that they didn’t have any in the store. So, I asked, could they order me a copy for pick up the next day?

“Sure!” she said, beaming. “All I had to do was visit and order it there. Then it would be sent to the store for pick up.

“Uh…” I said. “Yeah, okay.” I saw no point in entering into a discussion, but can you guess what immediately occurred to me?

Right. If I visited their site at home, why would I need to return to the store? Factoring in shipping and handling, I’d probably pay just as much, with the county taxes, as if I’d bought it at their store. I suppose there was some basic “shipping” fee involved in sending a copy of the book from, say, Skokie to downtown Chicago, but they’d still be ahead, wouldn’t they? I think I ended up buying the book online—which was good for the company, but a loss to the store, yes?

So, not really surprised at the current turn of events. Wow. I still remember the days when the box stores were pricing smaller independent bookstores out of existence. I never thought for a moment they’d fall themselves. Again, wow. I feel bad for all the people losing their jobs because of poor marketing and management decisions.

Author: Mr. Dan Kelly

Chicago writer interested in many things.