Known Johnson

April 12, 2008

On the Border(s)

Filed under: General — Tom @ 9:28 am

We took a trip to Borders last night after I read that they’re in “last gasps” of carrying CDs, essentially. What I’ve seen is that Borders will no longer carry CDs by 2010, and will drastically cut its book selection by then as well, going from a “spine-out” (like in the library) stocking method to “face-out” so the covers are prominently displayed on all books. Sounds like a desperate, and desperately stupid move.

It’s not as bad as I’ve read, but things are not good. There was a big, completely empty rack for CDs that was obviously going to be removed, and the racks are a mess, as they have been for some time – discs in the wrong places, listening stations not working, etc. It’s about as organized as I’d expect Walmart to be, except Walmart actually is organized. Yes, it’s that bad.

One section of the first CD rack was reserved for “75% off” CDs, which is why I was there. I have been seeing comments around the internet that many or even most stores had big sections for this, but ours was about 3 feet of CDs, clearly stuff that hadn’t sold in many years, and, from the looks of things, some CDs that had been in storage for a long time (they should be ashamed – this is the stuff I had been coming to Borders for in the first place.) Much of it was devoted to classical, not a big seller in the first place, so 75% off of a $7 CD is pretty cheap – I wish I was interested in getting started, I could have stocked up on enough to keep me busy for months for about the cost of a normal priced CD.

True to most bargain bins, most of it was crap. As I was flipping through, a couple wandered by and glanced at the selection. By “glanced” I mean literally glanced – they didn’t even bother moving anything, just declaring everything in it “crap,” out loud, except for the presence of an abandoned Jordin Sparks’ CD at the top of the rack, which wasn’t even included in the discount, but which elicited an excited “Oh look!” until they saw there was no discount sticker on it. Meanwhile, I had a handful of discs as I flipped gleefully away at the selection. If you love music, as I always say, there is always something to be found, and, of course, there was. In my hand were copies of Wire’s On Returning (a best-of the first three albums of this band that I always mean to check out,) Esbjorn Svensson Trio’s Viaticum (I have one of their earlier albums,) the Classical Jazz Quartet’s Play Rachmaninov (had no idea what this was, but it had Ron Carter on bass, Kenny Barron on piano, and Stefon Harris on vibes, and those are all names I’m very familiar with – how bad could it be?) and an import copy of Megadeth’s Hidden Treasures with 4 extra tracks. All for $18. Like Tower’s death throes, it’s a sad thing, but it makes for great savings . . .



  1. What I’ve seen is that Borders will no longer carry CDs by 2010.

    That’s news to me.

    It may depend on the store. Our location doesn’t seem to be cutting back. As far as sales go, we currently have an 8.99/9.99 CD sale that actually has some decent titles. The 5.99 DVD sale has a lot of good stuff, too.

    As far as the “face-out” policy for books is concerned, I think it’s a desperate move on the part of a corporation that has made a lot of mistakes in recent years, the biggest one being the hiring of a CEO who has no bookstore experience. When times are tough, Borders usually adopts a knee-jerk response that rarely works. The Borders Rewards program started off with a bang until they realize that we were giving people too many discounts and we were losing money like crazy, so they scaled it back.

    Our store isn’t completely disorganized (although multimedia is suffering), but a lot of the disorganization has to do with low staffing. They just don’t have the money to hire the amount of people that we need.

    Sorry if it makes it seem like I’m making lame excuses, I’m just putting it out there.

    Comment by Chris — April 16, 2008 @ 6:53 am | Reply

  2. Dammit, I just closed the tab where I had a fully-written comment with links for you. Now I have to start all over again. This will be shorter.

    Anyway, I said nice things like that I’m certain your music section is kept really nice but ours never seems to have any staff on hand – I never see any store employees near it except to pass through. It’s very sad to see for a music junkie like me.

    I can’t find the stories I’ve read now, of course, but I did find one link that shows Borders is officially putting something in place now to test in 14 stores. I think it’ll be a huge failure – people can make their own mixes of songs at home.

    As for discounts, in the past few months I’ve seen more “40% on all CDs this Monday and Tuesday” than ever before. That can’t be good – it’s certainly clearing out stock that is not being replaced in the Borders that I hit around here. This is very sad considering they used to be one of the most reliably eclectic stores around – including the indie stores.

    Comment by Tom — April 16, 2008 @ 11:12 am | Reply

  3. […] I mentioned about a year ago at the old site, Borders is doing away with CDs (and apparently DVDs, too,) and right now is […]

    Pingback by Catchin’ up « everything is a mess — April 7, 2009 @ 6:59 am | Reply

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