Last week's big U.S. publishing industry news was that by the end of this month, Borders Group will either be bought by another company and continue in business or shut down for good.
I'd just like to take a few minutes to reflect on what this means for us as readers and consumers. So many people, since the Borders bad news began, have reminisced about their favorite branch of the chain, or the first time they visited a Borders and were thrilled by its huge selection combined with what once felt like personal service.
Those days may or may not be over, and readers aren't going to pay attention to things like business deals and stock prices. But readers do pay attention to supply and demand.
The thing that Borders (and others) forgot about supply and demand is that those terms mean different things to different readers. One person wants the lowest possible price. Another values convenience most of all. Still another prefers to wait for the paperback.…
Let me put this another way, that is, anecdotally: where I grew up, there was once what many believe was the first "superstore," combining everything from bakery to a restaurant, hair salon, flower shop and liquor store. People came from hundreds of miles away to shop there due to its novelty, and returned again and again for the convenience. So why is it defunct? Because no store can do everything, and even when one does lots of things correctly, as other shops start to improve their business models (new restaurants take root, a great dress boutique opens, a new bookstore steals business from the "Books and Stationery" department), everyone knows what's coming.
This change for Borders, I submit, might signal a turning point for readers. I'm going to think more about it, and would like to hear from you. --Bethanne Patrick