July 19, 2011

The death of Borders.

"Borders Group Inc. said it would liquidate after the second-largest U.S. bookstore chain failed to receive any offers to save it."

I was living in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1971 when the first Borders opened there. Before then, we browsed for books at Centicore. Whatever happened to Centicore? I don't know, but Borders went big, and back in the 1990s, I loved the big Borders in Madison, Wisconsin. I went there almost every day, usually with one or both of my sons. Many times we left with a stack of books — usually after spending money in the café. Then came the day — in the late 90s? — when I asked at the information desk if they had WiFi. The guy manning the station gave me an attitude-filled "WiFi?" — as if I was looking for something stupid.

There was a narrative arc to Borders, and my own life followed that arc... up until the point where it diverged.

ADDED: I am reminded of my January 23, 2009 post "Despite shrines to Obama, the bookstore was nearly deserted."
Where is everyone? It's about 5:30 p.m. here at Borders, and I feel as though I've stayed until after closing time. I used to like to go here to browse alongside myriad strangers and to run into people I knew. Now, there's zero "town square" ambiance.

Here's a title that made me feel good about the way my reading about current politics has, in the past few years, migrated nearly completely on-line:

Bookstore shrine to Obama

"What Obama Means." Spare me. Whatever is in that book can — I will bet you — be skimmed and understood in less than one minute.

123 comments:

ndspinelli said...

Borders simply didn't get their own version of kindle or nook and that killed them. We must adapt or perish

MadisonMan said...

Borders' problems started when they were sold to people who didn't understand books.

Fen said...

They didn't have what I needed. Offered to order it for me. But I realized it was easier for me to order it online myself.

Plus, they employ libtards that like to play games with conservative books.

bah-bye Borders.

Ron said...

On page two of the Google Image search for "centicore Ann Arbor" is the avatar on the front of this blog.

Ron said...

I smelled doom when I went the A2 flagship store after they had moved some things around and asked a floor manager "Where is the American History section?" and was told they didn't HAVE an American History section! They did -- the manager didn't know that.

Scott M said...

If Borders is second-largest, what's first? Barnes And Noble? Books-A-Million? I see a lot of Borders stores and few of the others. Maybe that's a symptom. All I know is that Borders liquidating means I'm going to have to find something else to do next door while my daughter takes piano lessons.

Bartender Cabbie said...

I liked the coffee shop at my local Borders. Oh well....

rdkraus said...

Disclosure: Wife works at B & N.

If you like bookstores, go there and buy something. Buy some books there, instead of online. Buy a Nook at B & N and support them so that the brick and mortar stores will survive.

If you're not spending money at a real bookstore, don't complain if they all disappear.


Admit - I love browsing and buying. Spent an hour at a bookstore in Vineyard Haven last week.

MarkW said...

Borders management made some bad decisions (outsourcing their web business to Amazon, expanding internationally), but that merely hastened the end, I think. Book stores are going the way of record stores and video stores. B&N may be doing OK with the Nook, but people who read electronically have less & less reason to go to book stores. I think there's a pretty good chance that most B&N bricks & mortar locations will be gone in 5 years, too.

galdosiana said...

My fiance has some gift certificates to Borders, so we had to go out to the east-side one, since the (better) one on the west side has closed. I've always liked Barnes and Noble better, personally, and last night reminded me why: Borders has outrageous prices on practically everything, and their "bargain" books are few and not great. I saw a novel I thought I might like, until I saw the $20.99 price tag. For a paperback.

I think, unfortunately, part of Borders' problem was their unwillingness/inability to keep up with the demands for more technology. Barnes and Noble went with WiFi and the Nook. Borders had nothing.

AJ Lynch said...

Althouse, think about this. In your lifetime, these technologies or industries will be almost totally obslete:

Telegraph, magazines, newspapers, bookstores and landlines for your home phone.

They have been replaced by TV, internet, e-books, cell phones and wifi devices.

If you are lucky, your NYT may be one of the surviving newspapers.

traditionalguy said...

The Borders prices are 30% higher than Costco and online prices.

The well written and cutting edge books such as Mark Steyn's America Alone, not just the right wing propaganda authors, are intentionally not carried by Borders. But left wing silly diatribes against Bush were all over the store.

So what good were they?

Michael said...

The chain bookstores are staffed with people who neither know nor love books. Even the big Barnes and Noble stores are unlikely to have standard literary offerings. They are doomed nd their Nook product will not survive kindle. All of which suggests to me that small independents appropriately staffed and stocked willmmake a comeback.

t-man said...

The staff in many of the Border's I've shopped in was aesthetically awful - tattoos all over, nose piercings, ratty clothes, etc. I know, you are not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but what image was Borders projecting?

Pogo said...

1) None of the new book stores have what I want, and I can only order it online.

2) Publishers are going to have to slash prices to compete with e-books.

3)Why do B&N have the exact same set of books in every store everywhere? Are there no regional variations? Our B&N is smack next to a massive medical center, yet their medical section is a joke. WTF are they thinking?

4) I can order online easily. What do bricks and mortar shops have to compete with the sterility of a catalog? Impulse buying of cards and magazines. Ambiance.

5) Barnes and Noble should revert to what they used to do 30 years ago: clearance stuff. And cheap popular novels. And used stuff. A whole store of it would be awesome; like much of Powells in Chicago.

6) B&N seems intent on letting their politics kill them. Fine.

7) Screw the NYTimes bestseller list. Follow Amazon's list.

Ron said...

It's certainly true that technologically Borders fell behind the time; the irony is that their initial success was due in part to Louis Borders programming and doing a lot of analysis of their inventory.

Paddy O said...

Here in Pasadena we have what seems to be a thriving independent bookstore, Vromans.

Also, here in Pasadena, a very long lasting Christian bookstore, Lighthouse, closed down last year. Fuller Seminary's bookstore didn't close down, but last month they stopped running it, and contracted out to Cokesbury, which is a bookstore company affiliated with the Methodist Church. The bookstore was one of the biggest money losers and was a drain on the seminary, which prompted this change.

So, within about a 3 or 4 block radius one bookstore is doing well, from what I know, and 2 others either shut down or came very close it.

The difference is that Vromans is very active in and with the community. They host book clubs, lectures, author signings, and other events. They offer a place for those who love books to gather, and have a great selection and knowledgeable, helpful staff.

The other bookstores sold books, and had a variously helpful staff. They operated under the old model that if you wanted books you go to a bookstore, so they were passive about everything else. My impression was Borders was the same way. They had a great selection compared to the smaller bookstores, but compared to Amazon they hardly had anything.

Bookstores can be great but they have to earn our loyalty beyond just telling us they're important. If they want our community support, they need to embed themselves more into the community, becoming a book/music celebration center where real people can gather.

Curious George said...

It would be awesome if all the unemployed Border's lefties ended up working at the big Walmart.

bagoh20 said...

What will we burn?

gadfly said...

The Borders store in Ann Arbor closed on April 13, 2011

John said...

Re Borders and the Kindle/ereader

I had been thinking about an ereader for a year or two but was worried that I would not like it. What I really needed was somewhere that I could sit down with one and spend 15-30 minutes reading stuff.

Borders sold the Sony, but not only did they not have a working demo, they did not even have one that was not in the box.

And they expected me to spend $300 or so?

If I ran Amazon, I would make a deal with Starbucks and put some Kindles in every store. Put a selection of book samples on them and either lend or rent them for use while drinking coffee.

Perhaps even sell Kindles through Starbucks.

The trick is to get people to try one.

I held off buying one for a long, long time and still might not have one. My son gave me one last September and I am hooked. I've read almost 100 books on it. I've read none, as in zero, books on paper.

I used to visit the local Borders pretty much weekly. Since I got the Kindle? Not so much.

Kindle is amazing. It is the perfect tool for reading.

John Henry

James said...

Borders has been struggling for quite a while but this is still sad news. I spent many hours at their store on State Street in Ann Arbor.

Robert Cook said...

Barnes and Noble is the biggest bookseller nationwide. It is for sale. It will be gone in the not too distant future.

When brick and mortar bookstores stocking real books are gone, it will be a calamitous loss. I do read the occasional ebook on my iPhone--(currently finishing FRANKENSTEIN, downloaded from Project Gutenberg)--but I prefer real books printed on paper.

Moreover, browsing in a bookstore allows one to make serendipitous finds that one might never discover browsing an online store. Even if one does find a book listed online that seems intriguing, one can't know until one has actually examined the book, whether one wants to purchase it or not. I have had this experience of seeing books on Amazon that I thought I would want, but then deciding against them after looking at them in a local bookstore and finding they were not what I expected or hoped.

MarkW said...

The Borders store in Ann Arbor closed on April 13, 2011

Only 1 of 3 Borders in Ann Arbor closed then. The downtown flagship store is still open (for a little while longer).

TosaGuy said...

"Plus, they employ libtards that like to play games with conservative books."

I have been to the Madison Borders plenty of times when I was killing time in the evenings when staying overnight on work trips. The staff really did like playing Where's Waldo with books not friendly to liberal orthodoxy.

John said...

BTW: A tip for Kindle users:

Download the Send to Reader program at www.sendtoreader.com

It puts a bookmark on your Firefox toolbar. If you run across a magazine or newspaper article online, click the Send to Reader bookmark.

It strips out all the ads, sidebars and other stuff and sends just the article with any graphics to your Kindle.

Unlike a PDF or webpage, it is formatted specifically for Kindle and text can be resized.

I find it much easier to read longform stuff on the Kindle than on a screen.

John Henry

Ralph L said...

The nearest Borders was 25 miles away, but it was across the street from a Krispy Kreme bakery, so it was worth the trip ("Hot doughnuts NOW"), until a B&N opened 5 miles from home about 5 years ago. Yet I only go there for (most of my) Christmas shopping (from the bargain books), usually done too late to allow shipping.

Scott M said...

Moreover, browsing in a bookstore allows one to make serendipitous finds that one might never discover browsing an online store.

Very true along with the soul-pleasing tactile function of books themselves. Although, fair is fair. While browsing online, I've made just as many discoveries in the
"customers who looked at this also bought..." lists.

John said...

Robert Cook,

I agree with your point about browsing for books. I used to spend hours in bookstores.

In reality, I find the Kindle much better at discovery than bookstores.

Someone will mention a book and I can have an extended sample (1-2 chapters, along with ToC and other info) in minutes.

I don't have to remember it for the next time I am in a bookstore (I never do remember book/author names)and I know that Amazon will have it in stock.

Or, I can find free versions of many books. About to start Cory Doctorow's latest. I've been working my way through Trollope. I even downloaded Herbert Hoover's 3 volumes of memoirs from his presidential library. (Well worth reading, BTW)

I find discovery significantly improved with my Kindle over bookstores.

John Henry

Paul said...

That's Hope and Change for you.

11,000 jobs lost, so much for stopping a recession.

But it's Bush's fault, right?

TosaGuy said...

I also quit buying books when my bookshelves were full. Instead, I scratch my tiny socialism itch by going to the real library, not the yuppie library (B&N).

Want a history book in Madison? Then go the WI Historical Society Library on the UW campus, which is one of the largest history collections in the country. Any resident in the state can check stuff out from there.

Christopher said...

I never really cared for Borders but I didn't hate it either. I did, however, feel like smacking the people who celebrated its demise (all of whom considered themselves big supporters of education).


A major source of books goes under and somehow it's a good thing because....it's big? I never understood that logic.

galdosiana said...

Pogo said: 5) Barnes and Noble should revert to what they used to do 30 years ago: clearance stuff. And cheap popular novels. And used stuff. A whole store of it would be awesome; like much of Powells in Chicago.

Our Barnes and Noble here on the west side in Madison has all of that. Their entire loft area is dedicated to bargain, clearance and used books (they actually have a rather impressive amount and variety of used books!). In the downstairs level, they have several areas that sell their cheap versions of all the canonical works, most going between $5-7.

Calypso Facto said...

Love bookstores and hate to see any fail, but Borders, with pop culture selection and too-high prices never really grabbed me.

The bigger question for me is, are public libraries in the same trend boat? I practically grew up in the library, but I don't see many people there now except for kids picking up video games. How much and how long do we continue to support them?

LarsPorsena said...

"..Plus, they employ libtards that like to play games with conservative books..."

I've experienced that too. I went looking for Paul Johnson's "History of the American People" and had one of Border's employees half my age tell me that Zinn's stuff would be better for me. WTF?

Ed said...

Borders made a lot of missteps over the past decade - technology wise, but their biggest problem I think was they forgot that they are there to service their customers. A book is a commodity, and I can get a book in any number of outlets. If the shopping experience isn't pleasant, why should I come to your store?
Playing games with right wing books, the disdainful attitude about WiFi, the oh-so-cool face piercings and tattoos that are OK in a college town like A2 or on the Left Coast but don't play well in suburbia. All of that points to a basic lack of understanding of how business works, especially a retail business.
After a few bad customer service experiences with Borders (and a non-returned call to their customer support phone number), I have taken my business to B&N (which is across the street from our local Borders) and to Amazon.

Wilson said...

Back in the 90s it was a pleasure to shop at Borders. Their stock of books and CDs was large enough that it stretched into the "long tail". I was traveling to Madison a lot back then and spent many hours in the store you mention. I particularly liked the mathematics section, which was more like something you'd see in a University bookstore.

But sometime after the turn of the century it all changed. Perhaps it was new management. They started selling more toys, calendars and coffee table photobooks -- the kind you see in discount book outlets. The CD section got to be a mess, like nobody was organizing it anymore. It was no longer any fun to go to Borders, and I began to buy more and more books from Amazon. However, since I had grown accustomed to paging through a book before I decided to buy it, I sometimes still went to Borders to see the book before I ordered it from Amazon. While there I would occasionally buy a cup of coffee or a CD. But then I started buying all my music through iTunes. I realized that their business model was dead.

You read that Barnes and Noble has done all the right things, but I don't believe it. The success of the Nook may have bought them a little more time, but I think they too are a dead man walking.

Curious George said...

TosaGuy said...

Want a history book in Madison? Then go the WI Historical Society Library on the UW campus, which is one of the largest history collections in the country. Any resident in the state can check stuff out from there.


And oddly:

"Applications for the Society library card are available at the Society's Library circulation desk. The signup process takes about five minutes and requires both photo ID and proof of current Wisconsin address (driver's license, state ID, checkbook, utility bill, or lease). Society library cards are only valid for borrowing Society materials, must be renewed in person, and expire annually on June 30."

So clearly blacks and the elderly are simply out of fucking luck.

AllenS said...

Very good discovery, George. Bravo!

TosaGuy said...

"The bigger question for me is, are public libraries in the same trend boat? I practically grew up in the library, but I don't see many people there now except for kids picking up video games. How much and how long do we continue to support them?"

My library is a busy, busy place. However, what will kill libraries is the growing ideological castle mentality of its staff. Adding people and programs to build a kingdom and paying them all way too much money for what they do. Pay a librarian too much and they become a guardian of knowledge rather than a sharer of knowledge. Also, ideological librarians play the same games with types of books as a Borders employee. A few years ago, the Tosa Library would not let a GOP state senator hold a meeting in their community room. They caught some flack for that and appear to be better now, but people need to be on their toes about those sort of games.

Lincolntf said...

Speaking of great bookstores, I worked at the link for about 4 years after the Army. Met my wife there, too. Great place, even for the pretty much lone conservative. It's no longer in the original location, which was an old, refurbished machine shop with a great little restaurant in the middle.

http://tinyurl.com/442gm72

MadisonMan said...

are public libraries in the same trend boat? I practically grew up in the library, but I don't see many people there now except for kids picking up video games.

Which branch? Sequoya and Alicia Adams (is that the name? Out on High Point?) are always packed with people when I'm there. Monroe Street, closest to my house, is usually empty. I'm not even sure why that branch is still open.

MadisonMan said...

Middleton's library is also very crowded when I've been there -- usually for the wi-fi.

I haven't been to the new Fitchburg Library. Is it nice? Anyone been there?

Lincolntf said...

Trying again with the link to Tatnuck Bookseller.

Tatnuck Bookseller

John said...

Another thought on Amazon vs Borders:

Amazon makes it dirt simple for anyone to become an author.

I collected about 40 articles and columns I had written for Food & Beverage Packaging magazine, spent an hour formatting them and had them for sale in a Kindle edition the same day.

I had a bit more trouble formatting for a paper version. Mainly with page numbering. I had to design a cover. Once I did that, I uploaded the paper version to Amazon's CreateSpace publishing subsidiary and had a paper book available for sale in 2-3 days.

The quality of the CreateSpace books is as good as any normal paperback. I ordered 25 copies on Tuesday and had them by standard shipping on Saturday.

Top that, Borders, B&N or any other bookstore.

My book, for those interested, is "Machinery Matters: John Henry on Packaging, Machinery, Troubleshooting"

http://amzn.to/pvYGHN

John Henry

Robert Cook said...

"That's Hope and Change for you.

"11,000 jobs lost, so much for stopping a recession.

"But it's Bush's fault, right?"


No, it's the "fault" of a reading public that is moving to ebooks rapidly, and the fault of BORDERS management, whose stores were once fine places to browse and shop, and which in recent years became less so. Often, they would not have books I went in to look for...current books they had not bothered to stock, but were only available from them "on line."

If I want to buy a book online I'll do it from home and directly through Amazon. If I go into a bookstore, I want to be able to find the book and buy it there on the spot.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Borders never had the books that I wanted to read.

I went in to ask for Amity Shlaes "The Forgotten Man" when it was released and also wanted a particular Milton Friedman book. Neither author was in the store....at all. Not even Friedman This was in a LARGE two story book store.

In addition. I don't want to buy a NEW book that has already been thumbed through by coffee swilling freeloaders.

The Borders and Barnes and Nobles that I have ever been in seem to be a hangout for the creepy homeless or cheap people who want to read the books without buying them.

I buy on line or at used bookstores at deep discount where I expect the book to have already been pawed through and have the spine broken.

Paddy O said...

"So clearly blacks and the elderly..."

Well, it's not news that history is both racist and always moving on to new things.

jerryofva said...

Michael:

The Kindle is way inferior to the Nook. It has fewer books, is less capable and doesn't have much utility. The day of the stand alone device is over. The Nook Color is a tablet PC. It has better software and presentation than the Kindle. People buy the Kindle for the same reason they buy iPads and iPhones. It lets everybody know how cool you are.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Can't Obama give them a bailout?

Smilin' Jack said...

This sucks. There's a Borders right near me. Now I'll have to go all the way across town to B&N to look at books before buying them from Amazon.

@Pogo: Powell's is in Portland, not Chicago.

Tom Spaulding said...

Got my Kindle yesterday. Mt mother, brother and wife already had them. I want a one-trick pony for an e-reader. I do not want to get e-mail while reading. I do not want to read blogs when I am reading. I do not want to check Drudge while I am reading. I want to read when I am reading.

And every time I visit Madison, I go to Half-Price Books, 'cause the books are....half-price.

edutcher said...

I heard somewhere that their big problem was atrocious financial management, possibly including overexpansion.

I've also heard about the games with Conservative books, but never encountered it, and that's considerable patronage of three stores in very different locations.

And I think the Kindle thing is overdone - at least for now. Dead tree media, as some call it, will be around for a while.

Ann Althouse said...

There was a narrative arc to Borders, and my own life followed that arc... up until the point where it diverged.

Isn't that what divergence is?

(yes, I'm being facetious, too)

"What Obama Means." Spare me. Whatever is in that book can — I will bet you — be skimmed and understood in less than one minute.

Did she just give us a "Where Obama Lost Me"?

PS Where will The Blonde and I buy our Yorkie calendar now?

Aurelian said...

Even though I am a serious bibliophile bricks and mortar stores are going away and soon, except for serious specialty stores that know their niche. I love shopping online as I have diverse interests. Its like having all the bookstores in the world at your fingertips.

Pogo said...

@Smilin' Jack
"Powell's is in Portland, not Chicago."

Powell's Bookstores, Chicago
North: 2850 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL
South: 1501 E 57th St., Chicago, IL

Lance said...

I used to buy programming/tech books at Borders all the time. One or two per month. Now I haven't bought a technology book at Borders in ages.

When Borders first opened in my area (early 00's), they had a great technology/programming section. They had every book I needed, and most of those I wanted. I never had to bother with special orders.

Amazon of course had everything, but I didn't like buying books online. Technology authors can be hit or miss, and I wanted to see the actual content before plunking down $40+. So if Borders had a good book on the subject I was learning, that's where I bought it.

Unfortunately Borders also stocked a lot of what I considered to be garbage books: "Microsoft FoxPro for Everyone!", "Learn SED in 4992 Easy Steps!", "Practical Theory of Neural Net Topologies that No One Can Find a Use For". As the good books got bought, the garbage books accumulated on the shelves. At first I figure there must have been about a one-to-one ration of good to garbage books. But because Borders was so slow to purge the garbage, the ratio got worse with time. Last time I was there (last year), the ratio looked more like one-to-fifty good to garbage.

Borders' programming section ultimately choked itself with unsold garbage. I would still check in from time to time, but in the last couple years it was rare for Borders to have what I needed, and I found myself making do with whatever content I could find online.

Trooper York said...

I was totally against the Kindle as well. Until the wife bought me one a couple of weeks ago. So far I am up to about 120 books on it and going strong. You can't beat the price and the selection.

I will always love the Strand and the independent bookstores like Book Court on Court St. But I will only be going to them for nostalgia purposes now. To remember something that was once great but whose time has come and gone.

Trooper York said...

The contempt that the Borders clerks had for it's customers is reason enough to not be sorry that they are gone.

They would look at me in contempt with my big pile of Westerns and mysteries and science fiction books as if I was a moron or something.

Now I can order Elmer Kelton or Louis Lamour or Robert B. Parker or Dennis Lehane or Eric Flint or David Drake with them looking at me like I was a dumbass hillbilly.

Fuck your Borders elitist. Eat shit and die.

Michael said...

jerryofva: I acquired my Kindle about three years ago. Two of them crapped out and were immediately replaced, for free, by Amazon. I have a couple hundred or more titles now which relieves my overstuffed home library. I have looked at the Nook and it wouldn't do for me. The battery life is way too short, the device is heavy and I look at computers all day so the Kindle screen is much better on my eyes. Never thought there was a cool factor to a Kindle, always thought it pretty geeky but there you have it.

Neither device, however, can replace a physical book, especially non fiction where page flipping is necessary to refresh the memory or double check a reference or note. Electronic books cannot be handily navigated.

Scott M said...

I was totally against the Kindle as well.

Same here until I tried a book on the Kindle app for my Droid X. Hook, line, and sinker. This was around March and I have since bought between a dozen and two dozen books both new and old.

Chuck66 said...

During 2008 it was interesting comparing Borders with Barnes and Noble. Most every Borders had shrines to Obama, but primarly anti-Bush books in prominant spots. B&N was much more balanced.

Chuck66 said...

I buy few books as I would rather wait a year and see if Half Price Books has them for less.

But I love going to B&N so try to spend some money there. Maybe a magazine or a book to use as a birthday or Christmas present.

Don't know how many people are buying vs just hanging out, but the Barnes and Nobles I go to are usually busy.

edutcher said...

Trooper York said...

The contempt that the Borders clerks had for it's customers is reason enough to not be sorry that they are gone.

They would look at me in contempt with my big pile of Westerns and mysteries and science fiction books as if I was a moron or something.

Now I can order Elmer Kelton or Louis Lamour or Robert B. Parker or Dennis Lehane or Eric Flint or David Drake with them looking at me like I was a dumbass hillbilly.


Never had that problem - and I bought all my Sackett books and all there.

That's what you get for shopping in Gotham, among all those small c communists.

Trooper York said...

Well the Sacketts counts as highbrowed lit as far as Westerns go.

When I brought a big stack of Zane Grey or the Gunsmith with pictures of big breasted babes on the cover the looks of the hipster dofous guys behind the counter could kill. Well give you a paper cut.

edutcher said...

I assume a Longarm rates a visit from the Morality Police.

jamboree said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Widely Seen said...

Silly of me, but I did think the headline was a reference to the masses of the desperate [maybe Canadians] hoping to rush into the United States.
I had forgotten there was a bookstore named Borders...
Within driving distance there is Baldwin's Book Barn which, as the name suggests, is indeed a large barn chock full of used books -- some of which are valuable. There is a particular and attractive aroma about the place, maybe from the bindings and paper as they decay.

galdosiana said...

I should say that I also love Half Price Books. GREAT deals (obviously) and some more obscure titles, and each branch has a different selection--based on what customers sell to them--so it's fun to visit different stores.

t-man said...

I like the juxtaposition of "What Obama Means" right above the tag "bankruptcy". Is that an homage to Drudge?

Scott M said...

Looks like Books-A-Million is in talks to acquire some of the Borders locations. I really hope someone snags the one next to the damned piano store at my local mall.

sydney said...

When we moved to NW Ohio in the early 1990's, someone told us to be sure to go up to Ann Arbor to checknout the Borders. It was a long drive, but worth it. I bought a paperback edition of Cope's Early Diagnosis of the Acute Abdomen there. Two things:

1. I would not be able to buy that book at today's Borders.
2. I can buy it easily online at Amazon.

I do love bookstores, though, and will miss them when they are gone. Mostly now I just go to used bookstores to browse, though. I am always disappointed by the selection in new bookstores.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Robert Cook said...

Moreover, browsing in a bookstore allows one to make serendipitous finds that one might never discover browsing an online store.

It took them a lot of years, but Amazon cracked the "serendipity" problem about two years ago, at least for me. Prior to that point, their recommendations for me were almost always "books I already have" or "books I'll never want". But in the last two years, they recommend stuff to me, and it's very often something I didn't know I wanted.

Once upon a time, physical bookstores were hazardous to my pocketbook. Now Amazon is more hazardous.

Scott M said...

But in the last two years, they recommend stuff to me, and it's very often something I didn't know I wanted.

Ditto.

Now Amazon is more hazardous.

And with smartphones, the bastards made it super-easy. Two clicks and I'm reading. I've heard tell they mean to topple Itunes as well in the same manner.

Sigivald said...

Bookstores are moribund, especially chain ones selling new books.

(Used bookstores are less so, but only because they can be searched and aggregated via the internet.

As Mark said, they're going the way of record stores; they'll survive to serve niche markets and used re-sale.

That's it.

This should, frankly, be celebrated as a giant savings in resources and time and effort all around. Creative destruction!)

Good riddance, frankly.

(Nota bene - I live in the same city as the largest used book store west of the Mississippi, Powell's.

I might go there once a year, because it's completely not worth the effort compared to simply ordering a book online or getting a new one delivered wirelessly to my Kindle.

Apart from physical reference books, art books, and object-fetishism, I see no point in buying paper books.

Plainly enough people agree with me that the writing is on the wall...)

The Crack Emcee said...

Borders died for the same reason newspapers are dying:

An unmovable editorial policy.

Not the internet, not the recession, but an agenda they placed above anything else, no matter what. They'd simply rather die than change. Fortunately, not everyone holds to this policy, and - as anyone can see - their (premature) deaths can be arranged.

Good riddance.

Scott M said...

Apart from physical reference books, art books, and object-fetishism, I see no point in buying paper books.

EMP, zombies, Hammerfall, and/or apes.

gadfly said...

Read about the connection between the debt limit, Senator McConnell and Borders here.

MadisonMan said...

told us to be sure to go up to Ann Arbor to checknout the Borders.

I drove to AA once, to go to Zingerman's. Once was enough.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

John said...

My book, for those interested, is "Machinery Matters: John Henry on Packaging, Machinery, Troubleshooting"

Thank you, John Henry! I know some packaging engineers, and have also worked on material handling lines that feed packaging systems. I find the machines fascinating. I'll check it out!

A. Shmendrik said...

I was in a Barnes & Noble in Miami on Saturday, looking for a book on a relatively obscure piece of software. I bought the software on eBay for ~$50, and of course, it was download only. The license worked (authenticates with Microsoft, no problem, so it would appear to be legitimate) but it would help to have a how-to/tricks & traps/bible for this particular application.

I had not been in a Barnes & Noble in perhaps 6 months, and had never been in this particular location. I was stunned to see that software titles had been reduced to maybe 70 square feet of floor space, perhaps 110 lineal feet of shelf space.

Not that it is ever easy to stock IT/software books. They have a limited shelf life and like all other subject matter, they are facing merciless competition from online alternatives.

But, it wasn't that long ago that you would walk in to what seemed like acres of software titles.

As to Borders specifically, before they came to Madison I visited one of their stores in Des Moines in the early 1990's and was blown away. I found an obscure book on juries and the dynamics of decision making (an author of which was affiliated with UW Law School) and you could not find that title at bookstores in Madison at the time. In those days they were pretty good and you could spend hours browsing. By the end of the 90's, not so much.

A. Shmendrik said...

I was in a Barnes & Noble in Miami on Saturday, looking for a book on a relatively obscure piece of software. I bought the software on eBay for ~$50, and of course, it was download only. The license worked (authenticates with Microsoft, no problem, so it would appear to be legitimate) but it would help to have a how-to/tricks & traps/bible for this particular application.

I had not been in a Barnes & Noble in perhaps 6 months, and had never been in this particular location. I was stunned to see that software titles had been reduced to maybe 70 square feet of floor space, perhaps 110 lineal feet of shelf space.

Not that it is ever easy to stock IT/software books. They have a limited shelf-life and like all other subject matter, they face merciless competition from online alternatives.

But, it wasn't that long ago that you would walk in to what seemed like acres of software titles.

As to Borders specifically, before they came to Madison I visited one of their stores in Des Moines in the early 1990's and was blown away. I found an obscure book on juries and the dynamics of decision making (an author of which was affiliated with UW Law School) and you could not find that title at bookstores in Madison at the time. In those days they were pretty good and you could spend hours browsing. By the end of the 90's, not so much.

jamboree said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Palladian said...

"Apart from physical reference books, art books, and object-fetishism, I see no point in buying paper books."

Is "object-fetishism" some sort of Puritan term for aesthetic pleasure? You dismiss it as if it's some minor, unimportant thing that can be tossed aside.

But anyway, I don't care about Borders going under. I really only like book stores that sell old and used books as well as new ones.

Michael said...

This is a very interesting thread to me because like many others I have firmly entered the digital age while keeping a foot in the browsing, physical browsing, lure of bookstores. Look at Rizzoli's in New York. Great selections, always up to the minute picks, often esoteric, and focused on the NY and international audience. Down the Avenue there used to be a Scribner's in its beautiful space but long since gone, ditto the chain stores on Fifth. The chains tried to do what chains do which is to standardize offerings from store to store down to the location of topics and the selections. Little was left to chance. No self respecting lover of books could continue to work in those places and thus they became retail emporiums that employed the same people that could just as well been working at JCrew or whatever. Stunning collapse of a business that cannot be totally chaulked up to ebooks.

Chuck66 said...

Palladin...a couple of us mentioned Half Price Books earlier in the thread....they seem to have a good model. Some new books at a good price, lots of used books. They have a better selection than a typical discount book store, and also better used books then many places have. They seem to be a little selective on what they allow on their shelves, keeping the real junk off the shelves.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Palladian said...

Is "object-fetishism" some sort of Puritan term for aesthetic pleasure?

Actually, I thought "object-fetishism" was a perfect coinage for people who say, "Oh, but I just love physical books. The feel, the experience, the beautiful covers. Even the smell! And I want to leaf through the book and really fall in love with it before I buy it. I'll never give them up."

And I should know. I said all of that for years and years. Then I got a Kindle reader for my PC and for my phone. And now I almost can't bring myself to step into a bookstore. I feel like I'm doing something wrong when I leave a bookstore empty handed. But I always find more and better selection at Amazon, and at better prices.

I've changed so much, I'm now reluctant to buy paper books at all. I recently learned of the definitive biography of Edmond Halley. I want to read it, but it's only available in paper. I'm just not sure I want it that badly.

Calypso Facto said...

Does anyone know if Amazon's Kindle library different than their Audible.com library?

Synova said...

I like my color nook (though I know people who prefer the black and white sort you can read in the sun). It's a dedicated reader for me, but I will say that they've made it far too easy to buy books. Any time you've got wifi all you have to do is hit "shop" and you're at Barnes and Noble and a new book to read is two clicks (touches) away. Purchase-Confirm. That's it.

They do have incentives for walking your Nook into the physical B&N store, though I haven't been lately. Still, it seemed pretty smart to me.

The last paper book I bought was from there - Syd Field's screenwriting book. It's what I went in for, which is amazing. (I actually don't care for the book.) Usually the fact I'm looking for a specific book guarentees I won't find it.

There is (or was?) a Borders (brand new!) across the street and down a block and comparing the two I'd rather browse in B&N. I don't know how much is corporate policy but the layout is nicer in the B&N and you walk in past tables piled high with new best sellers including genre books right up front and center. They have a table and end-caps for local authors where you have to trip over them. I couldn't say how the tech books fare, but they're placed on the end of the genre shelf area right next to the cafe and I did find a number of InDesign tutorials when I needed one. All of the other reference and non-fiction books are upstairs, all the non-book media, and a huge children's and educational section as well as non-clearance cook books. Big section last time I looked.

Scott M said...

Any time you've got wifi all you have to do is hit "shop" and you're at Barnes and Noble and a new book to read is two clicks (touches) away. Purchase-Confirm. That's it.

Same here for the Droid Kindle app. Unfortunately, I then have to navigate to the archived books and hit download. It's agony.

Synova said...

On the Nook I get (when I buy from B&N and not some other place like Baen) Purchase-Confirm-Read Now.

If I have to go to my library I'll have to search for the new book, but if I go to Read Now right when I buy it, there it is.

Scott M said...

If I have to go to my library I'll have to search for the new book

Agony!

"Do you have any idea how long it took me to get all the evil exes' contact information so I could form this stupid league? Like, two hours! *Two hours!*"

Synova said...

LOL.

But the bottom line, of course, is that making it as easy as possible for customers to purchase from you is good business sense.

And if we've come to expect effortless instant success, so be it. ;-)

Scott M said...

Yes, but Syn...some of the inner-city kids only have 3G. This means you suburban white people with 4G get these downloads faster which, in the aggregate, allows you to succeed in life at a faster pace. Surely you support subsidies so those kids can have 4G, even if they're here illegally, surely.

Synova said...

I can't find my paper copy (and don't have an e-copy) of Barrayar by Lois Bujold.

It's got a scene toward the beginning where Cordelia expresses shock that people in the capital city's slums don't have universal access to information and her new father in law stares at her and boggles that not having internet access (in essence) is the most she can imagine of poverty.

It would be the perfect quote.

(I should get all of the Miles Vorkosigan books in e-book form but it would be entirely duplicating what I've already got in paper. Still, I ought to.)

mariner said...

Michael,

Look at the new Nook. Size comparable to the Kindle, improved battery life, and brighter screen. Touch screen.

Carol_Herman said...

Amazon is better!

Peter said...

“Kindle is amazing. It is the perfect tool for reading.”

OK, so I bought a Kindle2 with 3G. But I returned it within the 30 day window.

And there were plenty of reasons.

Such as: I didn’t care for the reading experience. I read many non-fiction books, and that often involves keeping bookmarks inserted at the tables and graphs. I flip back and forth between pages a lot. And, I can do that much faster with a paper book than with a Kindle’s electronic bookmarks. With the long page-refresh times, and multiple steps to set and use Kindle's bookmarks, it’s not even close.

Such as: I’m cheap, and if a book is not newly published I can buy a used copy for less than the kindle edition. And it’s cheap enough so that I don’t have to care about it’s getting lost ("-or broken or stolen" just doesn't apply to a paper book).

So, perhaps they’ll be good enough when they get to Kindle 4 or Kindle 9, or something. Then again, I don’t care much for proprietary technology, and there does not (yet) seem to be a universal e-book format that can be read on any hardware device.


Oh, Borders? Too expensive. Too much calendars and candles and cards. Snotty clerks who’d get an attitude if you asked about a book they didn’t think you should want to read.

So, I’m not looking forward to a world without brick-and-mortar bookstores. But it’s just hard to feel all that bad about the demise of Borders.

Lucius said...

@LarsPorsena: I'm amused your friendly Borders employee knew what Johnson's "History of the American People" was.

I'm wondering if they had a staff drill: "Now remember, people. Zinn good. Johnson is the evil anti-Zinn."

Lucius said...

I can't object to e-book readers on the grounds I'm suspicious of mp3s, where psychometric bullshit is used to gloss over the fact there's great loss of 'information' versus the compact disc. After all, the words are all there (unless, say, you're getting a $0.99 scan of an archived Samuel Johnson anthology from 1896, in which case--).

All the same, I can't help but feel there's some subliminal thrill of Generation Transvestism going on with all these senior citizens getting goosebumps up their thighs by all of a sudden turning their backs forever on the printed book. "Teehehe, I feel like one of the cool kids, it's like living in the *future*! . . ."

There aren't so many books in the world I really want to read. The ones I want to read, I want to pore over. Printed book "object-fetishism", in such circumstances, seems perfectly pragmatic for me.

Big Mike said...

Apparently the Borders closure will leave 10,700 people unemployed. And Cisco plans to lay off 6000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the entire net non-farm payroll growth in June was +18,000, so between Borders and Cisco they've cancelled out the entire nonfarm payroll growth of the previous month.

Maybe this will convince Obama and his crowd that it's past time to get serious about the economy?

Synova said...

"Maybe this will convince Obama and his crowd that it's past time to get serious about the economy?"

Maybe.

Unfortunately the well-worn answer for Socialists (I'd say communists but someone might think I'm being unserious) is to do what they've already done except to do it *harder*, because this time it will work.

Matt said...

Some of the time I try to shop for books at independent stores. The prices are higher but you are paying for the staff and the overhead that comes with bricks and mortar.

Sure, Amazon has better deals. But, look, we talk about how bad the economy is and how bad it is that there are so many unemployed people and store closings and then we turn around and buy more books online. Then we go on complaining about how the economy is so bad. Ummm...there is a disconnect here.

If every now and then [all of us] decided to shell out a little extra at an actual store it would help the economy. It would help us all. But, sure, I realize it is very easy to shop online. The deals are often too good to pass up.

Anglelyne said...

Borders and B&N have been dumbing-down their inventories for years, but what finally drove me out a few years back, never to return, was that they'd both become pretty nasty "forced music environments". I was attempting to have a nice browse-and-buy at the last B&N I ever entered, but I quickly got fed up with the shitty, shitty pop music being played at very high volume. Ffs, I don't even want to listen to music *I* like while I'm browsing.

(It's a bookstore. You know, books? Is nothing sacred? I'm dreading the day I walk into a public library and find this to be the case there, too. Please, please tell me that Powell's and Tattered Cover haven't succumbed to, er, improving their aural ambience in this manner.)

They probably would have been driven out by market forces anywyay, but it's hard to feel sorry for bookselling businesses that adopted a "fuck readers" retail model. Amazon has improved its browse-appeal enormously over the years, and they don't force me to listen to godawful screeching crap while I shop.

Anglelyne said...

If every now and then [all of us] decided to shell out a little extra at an actual store it would help the economy. It would help us all. But, sure, I realize it is very easy to shop online.

Turn off the goddamned commercial corporate play-list noise, cater to people who actually read, and I'll be happy to spend some dough at a local brick and mortar bookstores.

Matt said...

Synova

Yeah, the country is run by... 'communists'.... Goodness. I'm beginning to think you live in 1955 and see communists around every corner. America is pretty darn politically moderate now. We used to have the GI Bill with large government loans [a good thing btw]. Even welfare was pretty big until it was cut back by Clinton. And even though Bush increased Medicare drug prescriptions both Medicare and Social Security are quite literally on the chopping block. That would have been unimaginable just 10 years ago. Hell, Reagan signed a bill to increase Social Security taxes. If anyone did that today... they'd be called a communist. Right?

Matt said...

Anglelyne

I'll agree with you about the pop music at Borders. I hate it too. But most independent stores I go to play jazz or classical. I find that more appopriate. Borders became so commercial and mainstream it was like they lost their literary character. If they ever had it to begin with.

Synova said...

"If every now and then [all of us] decided to shell out a little extra at an actual store it would help the economy. It would help us all. But, sure, I realize it is very easy to shop online. The deals are often too good to pass up."

Because I'm horrible with money I can safely say that every single dime to my name is spent and enters the economy. All of it. There is no "little extra" to spend that I'm withholding out of greed or an unwillingness to do my share.

That said... It all enters the economy, but not all of it is spent locally. But it all goes back out again and if some of it goes to employees of Amazon, then what's the problem?

Online companies employ people too.

Maybe keeping funds local helps locally, but there is a limit to what I feel obligated to do. I do some shopping at a grocery out here on this side of the mountain even though the prices are high because I want it to continue to be there for me. They also do a good job of providing extra value from the big supermarkets in town. I can get just about anything there because they actually carry more than the big supermarket, from locally produced cheeses to exotic meats.

The big independent book store in town is even less likely to have what I want than the B&N. They do carry used books, which is a plus, and they make great efforts to have programs and authors in regularly. That's the good points. The bad ones are a liberal political gauntlet that practically blocks access to the store and the fact that they are too good to carry the largest selling genre of fiction there is in any numbers and any place you can find them.

My feeling is, if they don't want to sell books, that's not my problem any more.

Synova said...

Ah, Matt. But do you dispute that Obama and his administration's most likely approach to finally taking the economy seriously will be to do more of the same only harder?

What do you call wanting a higher debt ceiling? The old answer was "throw money at it". The new answer is "throw even more money at it and change the rules so we're allowed to throw more money at it." And for frosting Erica Jong can fuss about how uptight people are because they think it matters.

More of the same only harder is a classic response of redistributionists, whatever you want to call them. And things getting worse instead of better only means that the initial efforts were too modest.

Michael said...

Matt: I recommend you take a look at Whittaker Chamber's "Witness" which is the story of his life as a communist and his exit from that life. A very moving book, well written and one that every young person should read on the topic of communism and the 1950s

Matt said...

Synova

The independent bookstores I shop have a much better selection than Borders or B&N. They have more literary titles, history titles, bio titles and a deeper selection.

Stores like Book Soup in Los Angeles, City Lights in San Francisco, Tattered Cover in Denver [to name a few] have such a better selection that any book lover should feel obligated every once in a while to buy from them if they want the stores to stay around. But not just because they are local but because it helps book sales and the publishing industry for titles that are not just bestsellers on the NYT list.

Indie bookstores are actually rather healthy right now because there is a demographic that shops at these stores keeping them going.

When I say we should buy from them every once in a while I mean if EVERYONE who buys books chose to buy 1 book every so often at an Indie store rather than at Amazon it would keep these stores afloat. I think it is good to have bricks and mortar stores.

I say spread the wealth if you can. I think it would be a shame if our only option was shopping online. And yes Amazon has employees but Amazon plus all the other stores makes more employees.

Bruce Hayden said...

Well, I am going to miss Borders. We have one about 10 miles north of here, and the B&N is maybe 40 miles north.

When you have both of them close together (like up 40+ miles north in Reno), I prefer B&N, but I don't think that we have enough population to support one down here, which is why Borders was nice.

I didn't really notice that Borders didn't, as a rule, carry the more conservative political books, because they seemed to around here. Yes, they did have a lot of very slow moving liberal ones. Probably because this is fairly Red country, where the big fight is in the Republican primaries, and the general election is a foregone conclusion.

Got a color Nook for Christmas, and I just didn't connect with it. I had a hard time paying more for the electronic version of a book than for the paperback version. Or, at least comparable prices. I guess I was too enamored with the iTunes model. But realistically, their distribution costs are essentially zero, eliminating maybe half the cost of a book, so why don't their prices show that? It was nice, but I mostly played Sudoku. So, I loaned it to my kid on their recent birthday, promising them one of their own, once they knew what they really wanted, and they immediately bought and downloaded a couple dozen books.

Fred4Pres said...

I got a bitching Frank Lloyd Wright coffee table book at Borders the other day for $9.

Synova said...

"And yes Amazon has employees but Amazon plus all the other stores makes more employees."

It seems to me that if I spend the same amount of money on books it's not at all Amazon employees *plus* the other store's employees. If I split my purchases between them then I'm not supporting one full set of employees in each location, am I? Where do you get the multiplier?

If I spent enough to fully support .2 book-seller employees, then spending half at a brick and mortar and half at Amazon wouldn't mean supporting .4 employees. It would mean supporting .1 brick and mortar employee and .1 Amazon employee. (Ignoring business models and overhead.)

In any case, I don't agree that anyone ought to support a local indie book store simply for the sake of supporting it. A business isn't a charity in either direction, and it shouldn't be. Supporting a business that doesn't serve the community is not a moral virtue just because they sell books.

As I explained, our big local indie book store is so literary minded that it has a pathetic and reasonably well-hidden romance section. Romance dominates genre sales. Perhaps they are virtuous for taking some sort of intellectual high ground, but at what point am I supposed to feel like I have to fund their virtue? It's bullsh*t.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

I mean if EVERYONE who buys books chose to buy 1 book every so often at an Indie store rather than at Amazon it would keep these stores afloat. I think it is good to have bricks and mortar stores.

Quite often the merchandise you are getting through Amazon IS actually coming from a bricks and mortar store. They have just found a way to market their store through a partnership with the internet.

For example do a search for Julia Child Cook books on Amazon, and see how many independent stores pop up as choices for new and used.

So don't worry about them. They are making sales in a larger market than they ever could in the past.

I shop locally as much as I can for several reasons. 1. The closest large town is about 80 miles away so the cost benefit curve is totally skewed by the cost of gasoline.

and

2. I want the stores locally to stay in business and be available when I need to shop there

Synova said...

A large portion of my book buying, including e-books, is from Baen. It's less convenient as the e-book has to come from them directly, but the prices (unlike most B&N e-books) is less than paper versions (as it should be) and they tend to treat their authors right as well, on e-book sales, with better royalty percentages. So, lower e-book costs with more going to the author? That's the sort of thing I want to go out of my way to support.

I also just bought Ric Locke's self-published e-book (novella?) for my Nook through Barnes and Noble (it's also on Amazon for the Kindle) since Ric is someone I've known for a long time and his economy matters to me and I know that he's getting more of my money that way than any author of any book purchased the old fashioned way.

I'd far prefer to support authors than bookstores.

Synova said...

"2. I want the stores locally to stay in business and be available when I need to shop there"

This is why I go to the expensive "local" grocery store reasonably often. I do a lot of grocery shopping at Costco and the big supermarket in town, but I don't want to have to go to town. It's not at all that I figure that the grocery store out here has some moral virtue to it that requires my support. It's that I want it to be there for entirely selfish reasons, for *me*.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ Synova

Ditto.

I do a monthly shopping trip to the "big city". Costco, WalMart, meat store and a killer fish market for fresh crab. We stock up and use the commercial level vacuum sealer for freezing meats and cheeses.

However, it doesn't make sense to go all that way for the daily and weekly trips for perishables like milk and eggs.

So....selfishly...I want the local store available for me, when I want it to be. Even if the prices are much higher, the potential convenience is more important.

Robert Cook said...

"Unfortunately the well-worn answer for Socialists (I'd say communists but someone might think I'm being unserious) is to do what they've already done except to do it *harder*, because this time it will work."

If you think Obama or his posse of Wall Street lifers are "socialists" or anything even faintly resembling socialists, you've already trekked far past the point of no turning back into the no man's land of "unseriousness."

Synova said...

Okay, Robert.

What do *you* think Obama will do?

Something different, or the same thing only harder?

He thinks that throwing more money at the problem of unemployment and a depressed economy will work. It never has before, but this time it will, if only he does it HARDER.

If he gets us to hate rich people and takes away jets owned by private business and gets us all blaming those who have more, and throws more money at the problem, a magical unicorn will fly over the country and fart jobs.

And besides which... the whole point of my bringing up socialism and its purer sibling, communism, is that it's all about imperfection. If it could be just done *right* then it would be the real thing and it would *work*. No? That Obama's ideas are based on some notion of centralized planning, government oversight, and redistribution of other peoples money means that Obama IS what you scoff at me for saying what he is.

But you don't think so, because his plan is imperfect and there can be no fault with the *philosophy* and this time it would actually work if that's what they were actually doing, but it's not working so then it's neither communism nor socialism values at the core. No?

But what Obama is going to try to do is exactly what every other leader promising a "worker's paradise" on the planet has done when their redistribution and centralized nanny-state fails to deliver. As it all crashes and burns, he's going to do it HARDER.

el polacko said...

i saw the handwriting on the wall a couple of years ago. i found the item i was looking for on borders' website at a reasonable price. rather than waiting for shipping time i thought to just stop by the store on my lunch hour. to my suprise, the price there was MUCH higher. i told the clerk that their own website was underselling them and he just laughed. guess he's not laughing today.

gbarto said...

I got the Nook Color about a month ago and I love it. I've spent a lot of time and money at Borders because I love books and it was the closest bookstore to where I work. But lately, I've spent more time at Starbucks and McDonald's, because with the free wi-fi, I've got a pretty good bookstore and if I don't feel like spending money, I can wander through the free titles.

I'm sad to see Borders go, liberal bias, odd selection and all, but with my new reader, it's a lot more manageable to see it go than it would have been six months ago.

For what it's worth, the last time I was in Barnes and Noble (last weekend), I wandered over to the computer section and discovered some nice books about Android programming, leafed through them and downloaded the one I liked best.

Looking around, it seemed that most everyone there had a computer or a Nook and was surfing away. A few people leafed through books, but many were looking at screens.

They say that Union Pacific could have been big if they had realized they were in shipping and logistics, not trains. I think Barnes and Noble is in the business of providing a comfy spot where you can read something to kill time and then realize you want to take it home. With the Nook, they're better positioned to do this than ever before, because they don't need fifty copies of the newest book for everyone to buy one, they just need a few for people to paw through before they do the triple tap - purchase - confirm - read.

Robert Cook said...

Synova, Obama will do what his predecessors have done: make the financial institutions happy.

Raising the debt ceiling is hardly "socialism," or else the Republicans are deeply committed socialists, as demonstrated by the many many times they have raised the debt ceiling when they have had controlling power.

I'll also add that crafting public policy intended to benefit the citizenry--which I wish Obama might try doing--is not socialism either...unless you want to define the term so broadly as to include any policy that gives us a return on our tax dollars in the form of public services, infrastructure, or benefits, (rather than siphoning tax dollars directly from our pockets to the coffers of Wall Street, the banks, and the Pentagon).

Defined in that way, (which certainly may be how it is defined by the current crop of Republicans and assorted lunatics, thieves and montebanks who constitute the "conservatives" of today--a lunatic fringe that has metastasized to become the whole), all government activity anywhere that works as in should is "socialistic."