In an article by Matt Townsend at Bloomberg, the newest detail in this strategy is laid bare - pardon the pun.
Borders will now begin selling Build-a-Bear items. Yes, you read that correctly. So when you run to the bookstore to pick up that new novel everyone is talking about, you might just forget about it upon entering Borders and instead end up with a vente mochiato and Jimster, a specially stuffed bear wearing a gingham dress. On the ride back, you might realize your error but hey, did you really need that book anyhow? You can just wait for the movie version.
Sorry to sound bitter, reader, but living in a city where we have two amazing independent bookstores - Brookline Booksmith and the Harvard Bookstore - both a train ride away, but downtown we have two Borders and a massive Barnes & Noble, I'm very irritated to once again find this trend so visible.
One anecdote on this topic: a Facebook friend who works in NYC publishing posted about the bad B&N earnings recently posted, wondering how we could save "our industry." Read: crappy B&N earnings = people aren't reading. What's that now? Let's just say... simplistic.
I commented that B&N is turning into a mix of Toys 'r' Us and Best Buy anyhow, as I indicated in my last post. Someone else commented back, "STOP BETTING ON THE HORSE THAT'S ALREADY WON. the game has changed. there is fecundity in change." Note that this started with the B&N earnings report. I'm not trying to resist change, and therefore fecundity, but instead asking us all to question these assumptions. B&N earnings are more complicated than a single independent bookstore. There are executive bonuses, extreme expansion, all kinds of factors impacting their bottom line. If Amazon and B&N and Borders invest in e-readers and e-reading, does it then follow that all readers want to read in the electronic format? No. That's corporate forecasting, and I'm not going to have my reading choices dictated by it, nor am I going to assume that to be the only way forward.
These chain bookstores can morph into something much less book-related, but excuse me and people like me if we don't then follow the market without remembering what we like and what we don't like. I'm not saying I'll never read an e-book, but I am saying that I do not foresee getting a bear stuffed for my beloved at a Borders anytime soon.