From many reports, Borders is in trouble. People view bookstores now as coffee shops that let you use their main product in store, without paying for it. Kind of like if a grocery store let you grill steaks on site. Sure, you can't take the steaks home, but they still taste good in the store.
Over at Thought Catalog, Liz Colville details the email coupon offers she has received from Borders over the past few months, including the ones that show a growing sense of desperation. More half-off deals and more hardcover deals with headlines like these:
December 27: WATCH ALL WEEK! 2-Day Deals — Deal #2: 50% off bestsellers
December 31: 50% OFF ANY ITEM! Don’t Miss the Last of Our 2-Day Deals!
Or the deal where their e-reader, the Kobo or Cabo or Kabob can only be had for 4 days at $99.99 but then is extended into infinity. Or as long as Borders remains open. Colville writes:
January 13: WOW! A Wireless eReader Under $100 — 4 Days Only!
January 20: 4 DAYS LEFT! A Wireless eReader Under $100 [Wasn't that deal over on January 17?]
This is kind of laughable, because the Kapow is about to get shunted even further down the e-reader-tablet list, as HP and other actual technology companies make readers. The Capo will soon be not even 2nd-rate but 3rd or 4th and coming soon to a discount wholesaler near you.
I actually like Borders. I like that they stock more graphic novels than Barnes and Noble, that their books seem a bit more sectioned off into categories and that they are in more of the urban centers that I frequent. But of course, the product I receive (books & magazines) looks the same and is the same brand as B&N, or my indie or Amazon.com. It's hard to distinguish yourself as a bookstore. Unless you serve free steaks.