E-readers – one of Borders’ many misteps

I finally had a chance to go to the nearest closing Borders today. It’s down in Stafford VA, which is too far for me to drive most of the time.

I expected to see the usual chaos of a closing store: long lines, books dumped wherever, shelved books in disarray. But what I didn’t expect to see was this.

The picture below shows that store’s Area-E, the place where they sell ereaders.

I actually had to circle the store twice before I found the ereader area, and that one little counter is all they had.

I almost cried when I saw it. Borders made a strong push into ebooks, and that’s the best they could do?

This little counter finally brought home the many complaints I’ve heard from former Borders employees. (Read the third comment here, for one example.) After you read the comment, scroll up and read the post. It’s from back in July, and it criticizes Borders for how they rolled out their ereaders. Now it turns out the post was prescient, not an attack.

You might say that this was just one store, but we don’t know that. This was one of Borders standard Area-E counters, and they actually thought it would be enough. I mean, the store was supposed to carry 10 ereaders. Where would they go?

Good-bye Borders.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Mike Cane26 February, 2011

    I still want to find out WTF happened to the Borders guy who Commented at my blog TWO YEARS AGO about the Sony Reader!

    1. Nate the great26 February, 2011

      He works for a different company now. But before he was the VP of e-business at Borders, he ran Tower Records:

      1. Mike Cane26 February, 2011

        OMG. He is a one-man FAIL machine!

  2. Sherri26 February, 2011

    They’re just doomed. My local Borders isn’t closing, but I’m not sure why I should care anymore.

    I have $10 in Borders Bucks, so I went to Borders last night. I have a Kindle, so I’m not going to buy an ebook there, and even if I were, I wouldn’t go to the store to buy one. Further, I’m not going to buy a paper copy of a book I can buy as an ebook, so that rules out most new releases. Fine, there was a book I’ve been wanting that’s not available as an ebook.

    From home, I checked the website to see if the book was “likely in store,” and it was. Then when I got to the store, I checked one of the computers there to find out where it should be located, and it also assured me that the book was “likely in store.” It wasn’t there. I found an employee, who checked the real computer, and told me that they didn’t carry that book, but they could order it for me. I thanked her for her help, and left.

    What’s the point of a computer system that lies to me about whether a book is there? Why should I drive down to the store, find out it’s not there, order it, and drive back to the store to pick it up? The $10 in BB, which makes the book $3.59 cheaper than Amazon, doesn’t seem like such a great deal anymore.

    Sorry, I’m just grumpy. I wish Borders were better.

    1. Doug28 February, 2011

      I’ve read a number of reports that say that Borders’ computer systems were a significant factor in the company’s troubles. Built for the 1980s, they were obsolete by the 90s, when Borders found out they couldn’t integrate their systems with Waldenbooks’ computer systems (and never *did*). Since the turn of the millennium, Borders reportedly made two attempts to replace their computer systems with something more modern, but failed at both.

  3. Tyler27 February, 2011

    I have two Borders near me and this is not a standard e reader area for these. Borders no longer carries the Micro Cruz tablet and reader. hey also do not carry the Sony 650. So their number of readers have diminished recently.

  4. […] Cane left a comment yesterday on my post about how Borders screwed up e-readers. He wondered what happened to Kevin Ertell, who at the time was  VP of E-Business at Borders. […]

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