In general, Art Attack is pretty bummed about the closing of Borders. Their selection was always superb, their staff was very friendly, and we liked their rewards program miles better than that of Barnes and Noble. Visiting the bookstore was one of our regular weekend routines, and it is really sad to see them go.
This was made even worse after a visit to the Galleria location this weekend. We picked up a few comic trades at a discount, something we usually put off buying because it's hard to justify spending $20 on something we can read in an hour. Checking out, we expressed our sympathies to the employees, and offered our condolences on finding a job in the current environment.
"But you're probably tired of hearing that by now," we said.
Actually, no. The clerks told us that a pretty significant amount of customers had come in to gloat about the liquidation prices, scold the clerks for bad business practices, harp about how Borders got just what was coming to it, and finally, openly mock the soon to be un-employees.
You'd think people who read a lot would behave better. Then again, Glenn Beck and Bristol Palin sell a lot of books...
Still, even though we spent our time full-on Team Borders, there are a few things that we won't miss about the chain.
1. People Sitting on the Floor and Reading
One thing we'll give Barnes and Noble credit for is they tend to keep a nice leash on this behavior. There's nothing wrong with reading in a bookstore. They have chairs, benches and even a whole coffee shop section just for that reason. There is something wrong with staking out a claim in the middle of a walkway like some kind of hipster prospector mining for angst.
It wouldn't bother us so much except that offenders of this kind obviously plan on doing it. They have their iPod out, their giant bag regardless of gender, and they sit with their legs sticking straight out. They want to be a stumbling block in your way so they can glare at you for interrupting their pursuit of fine literature when you almost trip over them. Borders seemed to attract these people the most.
2. DVDs Locked Up Like Gold
Yes, people steal DVDs, but do they really steal DVDs out of proportion to books? Maybe, but for high priced books, like comic trades of technical journals, Borders always seemed comfortable just throwing a magnetic alarm strip somewhere in the middle of the book. Not for DVDs, though. No these must be secured in a metal case and only one chosen person may have the key.
That person, by the way, never, ever works in the DVD section. You always had to find the person to unlock the case, and then they had to take it down to the counter themselves. We're sure that the loss of an Ally McBeal complete series box set was a worry, but can the same honestly be said for the $19.99 single disc of Black Adder Series 2 we wanted?
3. Borders Wishes Your Children Dead
Borders always seem to be two-story affairs, and that's fine. We actually think it's neat to come down a staircase and see books laid out below us in all directions. Here's what we don't understand, though. Why do they always seem to put the children's section on the second floor?
We have a two-year-old, and frankly, she's faster than we are, at least in short bursts. Time and time again she would dash without warning from flipping through some book about fish to rush headlong towards the stairs wanting to go down for some unknowable toddler reason. Would it have killed you to put the kid's books on the first floor? Sure, she still would've tried to climb the stairs, but she's an American child. She'll quit as soon as she realizes it's hard.
4. Here Are All The Things You Cannot Have
If you needed to find out if Borders had a book, all you had to do was go over to one of their handy computer terminals and type in the information. Nothing could be simpler, right? We've been doing that since middle school at the library.
What bothered us about Borders's system, though, was that it didn't give any sort of priority to what was actually in print or physically in the store. It just told you every edition that has ever been ordered by Borders, regardless of whether getting it is in any way feasible. It would have been nice to type in, say, "Harlan Ellison" and get to choose search criteria like "In Store," "Can Be Ordered," or "No Chance, Buddy."
5. The Death of the Customer Order
Ordering out-of-stock books is where big box stores drop the ball, and will ultimately be why they disappear. Art Attack works in a bookstore-like environment, and let us tell you that we never let anyone leave without finding out what they want, if it can be gotten, and where to get in touch with the customer when we do.
Modern bookstores just tell you to go to the website, and Borders was horrible about this. If I wanted to shop online, I wouldn't be in a freakin' bookstore, would I? Our own profession, and other niche book markets like comic shops, thrive because they keep up with their customers' wants. If someone wants something we don't have, we get it as fast as possible.
We want them to come back, browse around, and feel like our store is the only place they can count on getting what they wants. Yes, even more than the Internet, because here, a real person answers the phone and walks you through the finding and purchasing process. No computer has yet topped that.
All that being said, we're sad to see Borders go. It was our favorite place to shop for new books. Hopefully, other stores will learn from their mistakes. We here at Art Attack wish all their employees as short an unemployed duration as possible.
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