Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why Borders and other big-book retail bookstores are fcuked


So I wanted to buy a specific title for a friend (The Soul of a New Machine, in fact) who would be in town in just 2 days.  Not wanting to pay 2-day Amazon shipping, I went online to Borders and “reserved” the book at a local Borders outlet.

When I went to pickup the book, there was nobody at the customer service desk.  While waiting for someone to show up there, I went over to the Search terminal to see if they had a copy of the DVDTriumph of the Nerds.  Searching for ‘triumph of the nerds’ returned over 13,000 hits (even when narrowed to Movies & TV).  Searching for the whole phrase returned 0 hits.  When the customer service person finally arrived (I had to go to the cashier and ask to have someone sent there), and told me that the book I had reserved would be at the cashier station, I asked him to help me with the search.  He tried without success and asked me whether I was sure the item was still available for sale.  (It is.)  I then asked if he could direct me to the section where I might find other books on the history of computers and technology.  He needed an example title to answer the question, so I suggested Insanely Great.  He did some unsuccessful searches and asked me whether I was sure the item was still available for sale.  (It’s in its second printing.)

I went home and ordered all the items from Amazon.  I’ll have to wait a couple days to get them, but (a) the search function found every item as a top hit on the first search attempt, and (b) I am paying less, even without considering sales tax.

Borders is fcuked, and probably so are the other big box stores. From now on it’s my neighborhood independent bookstore when possible, and Amazon otherwise.

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