Borders is Doomed

EDIT: This post combines several posts about Borders.

by Clint Bradford

Since my local Borders store had a “Kobo in stock July 2!” little card displayed with the other eReaders last weekend, I called them today, looking for another Kobo as a gift.

I called FIVE Borders stores in my region (Southern California). NOT A SINGLE ONE KNEW WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT. No one who answered the phone knew what a “Kobo” was.

I kid you not. Every time I asked, “Are the kobo eReaders in stock yet?” – I had to be placed on hold … had to repeat myself. The fourth store cheerily stated that they had a bunch of them in stock. I repeated myself, “Wow, the Borders kobo eReader?”

“Oh, yes – made by Sony, we have a lot of them in stock … ”

If Borders think they are going to seriously enter the eReader business, they need to get their employees on board. Now.

I am writing Borders’ customer care right now. I am a fan of this device. But if the front line sales staff is asked for a Kobo and hands me a Sony – then Borders’ eReader presence is doomed.

Clint Bradford
Grumpy from being up all night (g)

P.S. – Store managers this morning gave me FOUR different arrival dates: 12th, 15, and 17, and “call next week.”

P.P.S. The Borders ebookstore is up, in case you’re interested.

Borders is doomed, II

Editor’s note: This was submitted by a former employee of Borders who would prefer to remain anonymous.

I was an operations manager for Borders, and I am not at all surprised by the last post.

The biggest problem is that the borders website and the borders store are separate entities. It wasn’t until about a year ago that the book ordering process was brought in house. It used to be farmed out through They were losing a ton of money so they tried to start their own online retail site, but for some reason it is actually a separate company all together. It was done to try and recoup some of the loses from the in store ordering process. That attempted integration with online ordering was a total fiasco, and continues to be a failure. My best guess as to why it was done as a separate entity is because Borders was bankrupt when they implemented the program. They had to get another company that had developed a site similar to Barnes and Noble’s that was not a “live” site to rebrand themselves with the borders logo. It was the only way they could afford to do it, and it is the reason why you cannot get refunds for books ordered online in a Borders store.

I have had every kind of customer service issue you can imagine because of the ineptitude of the Borders online service. Try explaining to a very angry father why the copy of Tom Sawyer his 5th grade daughter ordered for her school’s reading program accidentally ended up being a copy of the satanic bible. (I still believe it was done on purpose.) When you combine the growing pains of the online company with the three different CEO changes, severe staffing and budget cut backs, and a general lack of communication it is a wonder anyone even bothered to take your calls.

The fact of the matter is that the borders store get NO credit for any sales related to the online site. (initially they were supposed to, based on a zip code proximity, but that idea was scrapped immediately.)

It is unfortunately not their jobs to keep track of anything related to the online stores because the managers get no credit for any of the sales – even on the orders that are placed in the store. Most importantly, there is very little profit margin associated with the e readers, and none of the books that you buy to read on them will help the stores meet their sales goals.

The stores have no control over when those items come into stock because it was launched through, and that the stores don’t care about the e readers or when they come in because they don’t make money off them.

When it comes to ereaders you are probably not going to get good service from a Borders store, and until the managers can meet sales goals from e book sales, they are not going to place priority on being knowledgeable about the e readers with their staff.

There is no incentive for the “brick and mortar” stores to help you.

However, they do take customer satisfaction surveys and customer care calls very seriously. The only way your concerns will be addressed is if you get a receipt from them with a survey on it. Everything you say on that survey will go straight to the store’s general manager, and if it is bad enough the District manager as well.


  1. Perry3 July, 2010

    Not a good sign. In Canada, the Chapters/Indigo staff knew exactly what I was asking for and gave me a great demo of the KOBO even though they were out of stock.

    Does Borders have such poor staff communication for everything, or just ereaders?

  2. Mike Cane3 July, 2010

    My nearest Borders heard of it and actually had a demo model — but doesn’t anymore. I guess that’s something. But multiply your experience by TEN — because that’s what Borders has stated it wants to do. Carry a selection of TEN eBook devices in its upcoming in-store “Area E.” “Oh yes, we have the Alex Reader. That’s the one from Sony, right?”

  3. carly3 July, 2010

    That’s about right for Borders. They are a nice company that’s wholly incapable of doing anything right.

    For the record, when I was a manager at Borders, every time something went wrong, was f—ed up by the home office, etc., we would shrug and say “I bet Barnes and Noble doesn’t have ____* problem!”

    *Insert your own disaster here (floor falling apart, corporate response to floor falling apart: “put a display over it”, corporate telling me to fire cafe workers over borders rewards numbers, customers bitching about coupons, insane inventory numbers or lack thereof, ceiling leaking, lack of a budget to repair anything, THE ENTIRE PAPERCHASE SECTION)

    1. Nate the great3 July, 2010

      You’re the third person who’s told me this. Damn, they are doomed.

  4. Clint Bradford4 July, 2010

    Technically, it should be titled, “Borders IS doomed … ”

    I had a 20+ minute telephone conversation yesterday with a resolution specialist at Borders corporate. I was very pleased with what I heard. I firmly believe that there WILL be shared employee knowledge when the kobo rolls out to Borders retail stores in the middle of this month. Call me an optimist … (g)

    Clint Bradford

    1. Sam3 November, 2010


      I work for Borders and am truly sorry you received that kind of service. I hope the specialist helped solve the problem. There are many of us at Borders that truly are excited about the e-Readers.

  5. Borders US Non-selling the Kobo | The Digital Reader13 July, 2010

    […] July 3rd I reported that none of the five local Borders stores that I called knew a thing about the Kobo. That post is still […]

  6. […] home the many complaints I’ve heard from former Borders employees. (Read the third comment here, for one […]

  7. Sad Sack26 February, 2011

    Yes to all of the above.


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