The End of Borders and the Future of Books

“An average Borders superstore stocked around 140,000 titles at immense cost, but if a customer craves selection, no store can compete with the long tail of the Internet. Maybe more crucially for Borders, the assortment of titles that provided the key to its identity didn’t give it a competitive edge over Barnes & Noble. Mark Evans, a director of merchandising strategy and analytics at Borders until 2009, says that the company surveyed customers to understand why Barnes & Noble, with its slimmer selection, continued to clobber them in terms of year-over-year growth, average sales per store, and even the number of books sold at each location. ‘Customers didn’t notice our larger assortment of books,’ Evans laments. ‘They didn’t care.’” – From The End of Borders and the Future of Books.

The article offers an interesting analysis of why Borders failed even though some of its stores were profitable and other booksellers remain so.

Take to the Ship!

The Independent Printing Resource Center in Portland is hosting a 24 hour reading of Moby Dick starting at 17:00 on 11 Feb 2011. I like the explanation of why they’re doing it:

When first published, Moby Dick was a near flop. It remains a totem to the importance of small, independent publishing for keeping alive great works ahead of their time.

It starts at Powell’s and moves to a mystery location from there.