Borders Aren’t Just Cutting Back on Stores

They’ve also reduced the number of ereaders they sell.

Borders launched their Area-e, the store department where they promote eBooks and ereaders, last year with the stated goal of having the broadest selection of ereaders anywhere in the US. There was talk of having 10 or more models on display for customers to try.

Sidenote: this grandiose plan would not have been possible in some stores, particularly the ones where the Area-e was a little kiosk.

At their peak, Borders stocked 7 ereaders at my local store. It was a pretty impressive selection, and it was also far larger that any other retailer. There were 2 tablets from Velocity Micro, the Aluratek Libre, 3 Sony Readers, and the Kobo ereader.

Now it has only 4 ereaders: just the 1 tablet from Velocity Micro, 2 Sony Readers, and the Kobo Wifi. Also, these are the only ones listed on its website; Borders doesn’t stock the others anymore.

It was good that Borders downsized, but I can’t help but wonder whether such grandiose plans were a good idea. In retrospect, I can’t help but feel that a plan to have a dozen or more ereaders on display demonstrated poor judgement on the part of Borders.

image by quinn.anya

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor 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. fjtorres28 March, 2011

    Stocking 10 different readers?
    That would definitely be good… if you were, say, Best Buy, and your business is selling consumer electronics in volume and you know how to sell the darn things.
    None of which applies to Borders, does it?

    It might also be a good idea if those readers were going to generate future ebbook sales to fatten the bottom line directly.
    But Borders doesn’t have an ebook store of their own; they just get a trickle of the revenue Kobo gets out of the and none out of Sony or the other Adobe Adept readers and tablets. In fact, the tablets, like the Velocity Micro, might just end up generating more ebook revenue for Amazon or B&N than for Borders.

    A single stop for ebook readers *may* be a good idea for *somebody* but I don’t think it was a particularly good idea for Borders.

    In a way, it reminds me of the “selling is selling” school of management that says there is no difference between selling consumer electronics or “flavored sugar water” or, in Border’s case; books.
    The record on this is mixed, no? Especially in recent times.
    Some players (*cough* Amazon*cough*) do manage to sell a diverse mix of products by specializing in retailing rather than by specializing in one product and then trying to branch out to something wholly different. Border’s history shows that they never were particularly good at *selling* books; just at stocking them and hoping availability bred sales. It worked–for a while… But once other players matched and bettered their product availability they were toast.

    I suspect Border’s selling readers is comparable to Blockbusters stocking candy, popcorn, and magazines; arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

    1. savgpncl29 March, 2011

      No, it was a terrible idea for Borders. The Velocity Cruz Readers/Tablets were nothing but a headache for the store (we had more returns than sales if there is such a thing). Borders dilutes their mix by concentrating on everything other than books (electronic or otherwise). And lets not forget the “rootable” Nook which is far and away the best unit out there.

  2. Tyler28 March, 2011

    Your just noticing this now? Borders has been doing this for awhile. Since Christmas, the Micro Cruz tablets were on sale to get rid of them. The Sony 650 just disappeared.

    1. Nate the great28 March, 2011

      I don’t shop in Borders, and I’m pretty sure that when I was last in my local Borders store in mid January it had all 7 or so models.

      And no on else has covered it yet, so it’s news worthy.


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