Borders and Its Last Dying Days

Posted: February 19, 2011 in Braak
Tags: , ,

I went to the Borders at the mall, today.  It is closing, so they are having a huge sale.  Well, a store-wide sale.  Most of the books are only 20% off; even the ones that used to be on the 3 for 2 table, but I guess it’s not like Borders gives a shit what anyone thinks about them anymore.

I feel pretty horrible about store closing sales.

Just in general, I mean.  In this particular case, I rationalized it:  Borders is in debt, so if I don’t buy some of this stock they have, they aren’t going to be able to pay their employees.  Not as good as buying books six months ago, when it might have helped keep the company in business, but better than not buying any books at all.

Something I’ve been noticing, though:  in all the conversations about why Borders is having to have to fold, there is one thing that doesn’t come up, and it’s something that wasn’t really Borders’ fault at all.

I noticed this when I was looking at books that were 20% off, and they were still too fucking expensive.

I decided a while ago that I wasn’t going to ever spend more than ten dollars on a book, because fuck you, I’m never spending more than ten dollars on a book.  I don’t read Kindle books because I prefer to read them on the Kindle; I do it because it’s cheaper.  I didn’t go to Borders and just read their shit in the cafe because I don’t like paying for books; I did it because I don’t like paying MORE THAN TEN DOLLARS for books.

I am not now, nor am I EVER, going to spend twenty-five bucks on a Harry Dresden novel.  Jim Butcher, I know you’re a regular cat who has to make a living, and your books are good and all, but you know what?  They aren’t twenty-five dollars apiece good.

It cost a hundred and fifty million dollars to make a Batman movie, and those guys didn’t charge more than ten dollars a ticket.  Don’t even try to tell me that between you and your editors, you put a hundred and fifty million dollars worth of work into Proven Guilty.

This isn’t Borders’ fault, obviously; they don’t get to set the prices of the new hardcover novels.  And maybe the economics of the publishing industry means that there’s no choice except to release a twenty-five dollar hardcover for an urban fantasy brain-candy book series.  But I can’t imagine that it’s good for Del Rey that Borders is going out of business, and if it is the case that books are pricing their retailers out of the market, then I guess it means that someone has been putting short-term gains over long-term sustainability.

 

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Comments
  1. Jeff Holland says:

    I had that exact same response when I saw there was one more copy of Gibson’s “Zero History” on the shelf: “Wow, 20% off, that’s…still like 18 bucks. I can wait three more months for the paperback.”

  2. Lolly says:

    Well… Comparing book prices to movie ticket prices is not exactly a fair comparison (also, movie tickets are $13 for an adult both in New York and Miami). It would be an accurate comparison if for $25 you could read the book once and never again. It would be more accurate to compare a book to a DVD and there the prices for new releases are pretty much equivalent and they are even higher for a blu-ray. So actually, if you pay $10 in the theater, then watch the movie again on demand for about $6, decide that you love it and buy a DVD for $15 (and that’s obviously on the lowest end for a new release), you’ve now spent at least $31 (but more like $40), so a book is a pretty great deal by comparison.

    That said, you are referring to fun, genre books that don’t tend to be the kind of books you’d come back to and re-read over and over. So I guess it really depends on the book and your affection for it. If it’s throw-away fluff for some light summer reading, then $25 is insanely too much. If it’s a hardcover of your favorite book that you will read for years to come, then it’s a bargain.

  3. braak says:

    Yeah, it is pretty rare for me to read a book twice. It would be EXTREMELY unusual for me to read a Harry Dresden book twice. I am, in fact, suspicious of anyone who rereads Jim Butcher novels.

  4. braak says:

    But then, I also only spent ten bucks to see Batman in the theater, and then got the DVD for Christmas. Besides all that, no one put 75 million dollars worth of work into Proven Guilty, either.

  5. Lolly says:

    No, I’ sure they didn’t. But then again, not all movies are Batman. I mean, they did put $35 million into Old Dogs and yet that movie is SO not worth the $10 bucks in the theater. So I guess I agree with you that book prices are often unrealistically high, but think the film industry is a totally different economy and not a fair basis for comparison.

  6. braak says:

    Well, true, in terms of the economic function, but from my perspective of: “what am I going to spend this ten dollars on?” they must necessarily find themselves compared.

  7. aspiringexpatriate says:

    CD albums are probably a better comparison. A lot of money goes into making them, mostly on the publishing side. And it is the publishers who try their hardest to over charge for a niche market because, well, they know the audience is already hooked. Whereas new unknown and possibly great stuff is dirt cheap. So, yes, publishers consistently price themselves out of a competitive market, and spend what profits they make prosecuting those who procure the intellectual property illicitly. Or they make the cheaper downloadable option in piss poor quality or format, because they don’t want to encourage a cheaper price.

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