The economy is doing what the Republican party only wishes it could: closing the Borders. Or at least some of them, including the Borders store in my hometown of Springfield, Missouri. I stopped by there out of curiosity to see if there were any bargain prices worth having. Found most things were marked 20% off of MSRP (the signs outside claimed discounts of “20-40%”, but I didn’t see any 40% discounts), and there was a line going halfway to the back of the store.
I didn’t stick around long (and a good thing, as it turned out I’d left my lights on again), but they were doing a booming business. There didn’t appear to be many cashiers on hand (a friend who checked out an Austin store told me that there were only two on duty in that store, and the line was considerably longer), and the lines reminded me of similar lines I’d seen a couple of years before during the local Circuit City’s liquidation sale. As I walked by the end of the line, I overheard a man telling his wife, “I’ll text you when we get near the front of the line.”
I was a little surprised that so many people were willing to stand in line for so long for prices that were not as good as what you could find online at Amazon. As an example, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was marked as 20% off its $14.99 list price. The Amazon version seems to be a slightly different edition (it has a different cover, and has a $12.99 MSRP), but it is available for $7.58 as a paperback. Who would want to stand in a line to pay $4.41 more than he has to?
I did encounter one of my table-mates from the con—one of the other members of the con committee for the convention I help run in October—buying a couple of DVDs. I didn’t have the heart to tell him they were probably cheaper online, as well. It’s symptomatic of the problems these bookstores have been having, really—the reason why Borders crashed, and Barnes & Noble is on the rocks. For the most part, they sell books at full bookstore price—and on-line stores like Amazon or deep discounters like Wal*Mart have bigger inventories and much lower prices. Even without the added pressure from e-books, smart shoppers were going to go somewhere else.