I've heard this now a few times, but does that make it true? Borders pisses me off about six different ways, but this can't be good for the industry as a whole--or can it? What are the implications if Borders goes away?
Taiwan has every kind of Chinese food. Every city also has several kinds of food it is famous for. My wife is from Tainan, in the south, and apparently other Taiwanese come to Tainan just to eat. As far as local food, I don't know enough about the different regions of Chinese food to differentiate what is specific to Taiwan, but of course they eat a lot of seafood, they love hot pot, and basically they like all kinds of Chinese food. I would say Taiwan is a great place to go if you want to try all the varieties; whatever kind of food you're interested in, I'm sure you can find it here.
I've been to that bookstore. :) My in-laws live nearby. And I know what you're saying about Japanese service. At a Shinjuku department store I bought a wristband for my American watch and the service people just refused to give up in trying to mate the pair for me. They frigging care. It's downright touching.
Yeah, I like how they put book jackets on your books for you and they have that special counter in the back where they keep the money, and the tray to put your money on. I don't know, it's just little things, but it makes a big difference.
I was at some bookstores here in Taiwan yesterday and noticed that just about all their books are sold in shrink wrap, including imported English mass market paperbacks, for example John Grisham. I thought it was odd to see a mass market paperback in shrink wrap.
After the whole POD kefluffle with Amazon, I prefer to put my dollars in a Michigan-based company. (But I'm also a Michigander. =) One of the great things about Borders, for me, is that they do order any (non-POD) book you want. And you don't have to pay for it until you pick it up. So I can order it, flip through it in a quiet corner, then decide if I still want to buy it.
Borders has some troubles, especially with some of the changes they've made. They're new online store is pretty good, and I especially like the "bookshelf" appearance where you can see the books as they'd appear on a store shelf. Works with the whole cover/ location thing that often affects people's purchases.
(For those who don't know, Amazon got some mud on them when they moved to force all POD-printed books to use Amazon's POD printing company for all Amazon orders. Of course, Amazon gets a bigger cut of the money if they are both retailer & printer. There was another kerfluffle with Amazon and ebooks, where they may have contributed to putting a bunch of ebook publishers. I don't like monopolistic tactics.)
I'm not sure what the impact would be-- though I'm guessing that if Borders as a company goes down, someone will buy them. That someone may or may not be a book store company, but they may take over the stores. I could see Barnes and Noble buying up Borders and keeping the stores open. Independent bookstores might try to move in, but I kind of doubt it. Most people go brand name rather than local. Our last two independent bookstores struggled for years... one closed down after Borders opened, and the other is hoping for a buyer or they'll be gone too. Though, with fewer book stores, I think we'll see an increase in grocery or super center-type (Wal-mart, Meijer, Target, etc.) book sales. As a convenience thing.
I think one of Border's biggest problems is pricing. It's certainly cheaper to use Amazon. Also, I think the average person is reading less. (Too much TV watching, I think.) Sadly, I wouldn't be surprised to see bookstores dwindle in numbers as people buy books either online at the grocery store. Though, for serious connoisseurs, there is nothing like walking into a bookstore, wiping the drool off one's chin and inhaling that intoxicating scent of unread books.
The major problem with depending on sales through stores like Wal-Mart is that they want such a steep discount when they order the books that there's very little in the way of profit left for publisher and author. It takes ridiculously large numbers in sales to earn out an advance. Plus, I'd hate to rely on the eensy rack space that most grocery and discount stores set aside for books. You think space is shrinking at bookstores? Imagine if everyone was trying for those few slots at the grocery store?
Borders may or may not go under. They've been working for a while to head it off. I think they've been looking at potential buyers, but without success. I can't say I've ever been in a Borders, at least not to my knowledge. As it is, I do most of my shopping in B&N, unless it's something they don't stock, in which case I'll try to track it down on Amazon.
If the big box stores do go under, it's possible independents might rush in to fill the gap. I hope they do. I think it's another example of something big squashing the competition and then dying out under it's own bulk. If things go back to smaller bookstores, would that be a bad thing?
I vote for the demise of Borders means a possible revival of local bookstores. Sure, there will always be Amazon. (at least, 'always' until they step over the legal trip-wire concerning monopolistic practices--and it is coming, sooner or later)
You can't beat a great bookstore ran by locals who have a love for books. In fact, I just spoke with the new owner of an old used book store I spent decades in browing through the shelves. She bought it not to make a profit--she bought it because she loved it. Still loves it. It breaks even when it comes to earning profits.
Why compare Borders to B&N? Borders is fighting a war on many fronts. Yes, it sells books, but it also sells DVDs, CDs and other electronic media. The iTunes generation has as much a stake in Borders's future as the Amazon crowd. As far as possible buyers go, Best Buy might end up purchasing Borders, especially since Circuit City bit the dust.
Our Barnes and Noble sells CDs and DVDs as well. There's a pretty good-sized section set aside for them. Don't see why they wouldn't be a good fit, except B&N already considered buying Borders and declined. As things get worse and worse for Borders, though, they might reconsider if the price comes down.
Don't forget that CD sales are also in serious decline--worse than books, even. Part of Borders business plan has always been (at least since the mid-'90s, when I worked at the Borders in downtown DC) to discount the hell out of books and make up the difference in music and video. That's not working out too well these days.
Borders is a large chain of book stores. So is B&N. It makes the most sense from a business POV for B&N to buy them, close the underperforming stores and those in direct competition, and assimilate the rest. And this isn't just my guess. It's been talked about in the press for more than a year. But anything could happen.
I hope not. Here in the UK the biggest competiters to the large book chains such as Borders, Waterstones and Blackwell are Amazon, and more and more the large former food only stores such as Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda. They have certainly been a nail in the coffin of the small independent book stores. I've been as guilty as others in using the 2 for £7.00 offer on new and bestselling paperbacks. I use borders as much for social reasons as anything else. I can browse around for an hour or so, look at CDs and DVDs as well as books and meet friends for a coffee.