Looking for Books in a Border-less World

I miss My Borders.

The cultural blog/aggregator Flavorwire was kind enough this week to tell me about "10 of the Most Hilarious Memoirs You’ll Ever Read." Intrigued, I checked it out — and found a memoir that sounded really, really good:  Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by The Bloggess Jenny Lawson.

Two words: must have.

In the olden days, I'd have stopped by My Borders on the way home from the gym that night and picked up my copy, maybe even started reading it in the store (with a cookie and a latte from the cafĂ©).  Alas, that is no longer my life.  Instead, I checked a couple of resources to see what this book would set me back. (For those of you keeping score at home, the publisher has set the manufacturer's suggested retail price, or MSRP, at $27.99.)  

Amazon featured it for $12.99, which was a fine price, but add in shipping and the fact I'd have to wait, and the price became less attractive. Plus, after seeing the cold, heartless inside of an Amazon warehouse, I do not find Amazon the panacea it once was.

So on to Barnes & Noble, my nemesis.

First, let me explain: I do not find the local Barnes & Noble as inviting as My Borders was. I hate encountering a Nook-shiller during my first breath in a bookstore. (Yes, I know e-books are as much "book" as "e," but that's not what B&N makes me think it thinks.)

Second, I feel as though the books are shoved into shelves which are scattered about the store without rhyme or reason in a vain attempt to make us wander past every shelf so we encounter more books we want to buy. 

Third, they have no Marge Percy in the poetry section any time I visit.

Fourth, I was offered only a few months' free membership in the B&N membership club when they took over Borders Rewards. My Borders membership information, had they bothered to review it, should have earned me a free one-year membership. B&N didn't care about me as a customer, so I don't care about B&N as a consumer.

Okay, back to the matter at hand. 

So, I check B&N's website to see how the price compares. 

B&N charged a dollar more than Amazon, but my husband David's membership would provide free shipping to my location of choice. Plus, I could see if B&N had the book in stock at the local brick and mortar store. Which it did — but, wait! The cost was listed as the MSRP. Didn't the website list it for half that? Thinking the website didn't reflect the in-store sale price, I called the store to confirm the cost.

The bookseller who answered the phone was very enthusiastic about the book, and confirmed the store price: full MSRP.

Stores with both Internet and street presence need to clearly, boldly list the price differentiation. Sure, that's counter-intuitive to your "suck me in and make me enter your store so I'll buy it anyway because I drove all the way out there" approach. However, you have only once shot at that before I get to decide: be sucker-punched whenever I walk in the door or accept that I have no idea what an item costs in your store until I walk in and see the tag. 

Let me warn you, I don't forget easily. I still hold a grudge against Mattress Discounters for charging me extra for delivery of a bedframe because the salesperson didn't reserve it in time at the warehouse and I had to choose whether to accept the floor sample with an insignificant discount or decide I lost half a day's wages waiting for the store salesclerk to hose me. That was in 1996, people, and not only did I choose another store for my latest new mattress, but I share that story with everyone who speaks the phrase "Mattress Discounters."

Okay, back to the matter at hand.

I wanted the book — but would I buy it?

I didn't want to travel across town to a bookstore I didn't like for a book at full MSRP (minus David's discount, because I don't buy books from B&N). I didn't want to wait a week for a mail-order. I didn't want to pay Amazon shipping and I didn't want to buy it from a store that didn't differentiate between online price and in-store price.

I was still mulling it over when I saw it on the shelves during an "unexpected" trip to Target. (Are any trips to Target really unexpected?) In-store was a 30 percent discount. It was there, I was there, I already had coffee, a To Kill a Mockingbird Blu-Ray, an Avengers t-shirt and cat treats in the basket. David was perusing the magazines, looking longingly at the summer movie issue of Entertainment Weekly. Target lists their prices online as "online."

"I miss My Borders," I said.

"I know," David said.

I put the book in the basket.

So far, I have thoroughly enjoyed the book. David has devoured his magazine. We drank the coffee this morning. 

Target: 1. 
B&N: 0. 
Borders: still breaking my heart.


  1. I lost Borders when i moved to the Space Coast but am still sad that when i move away from here i will not find a Borders for my book and music and stationery buisiness. While not a huge b & n fan there coffee is better and their staffing is better than books a million. I am not even sure everyone at the books a million near me can actually read! love the blog! stacy

  2. Thank you, Stacy. Pastry is even more important in regards to bookstores, and B&N hasn't come through well for me yet.


    I'm not *looking* for things to dislike. I *want* a local bookstore. There are a few nearby bookstores, mostly secondhand (which you know I love), but I want more. MORE, I tell you. Am I going to have to open one myself?


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