Mixed Feelings

The flagship Borders store in Oxford Street is closing.  I only stop by once a month or so, but still*.  I hated it when the large Waterstones closed down a year or so ago, and now Borders? 

But… they’re having a massive 50% off everything sale.  And although some of the sections were practically bare and it was massively crowded (who knew so many Londoners love books), I came away with the following:

Alison Goodman’s “Eon: Dragoneye Reborn” (YA fantasy):  I read several reviews of this when it came out a couple of months ago, and was tempted.  It was hardcover though, and so I practised restraint for once.  I literally danced for joy when I spotted it on the shelves.  Can’t wait to read this one, especially as it’s been compared to Tamora Pierce’s books.

Richelle Mead’s “Succubus Heat” (urban fantasy):  May release.  Been meaning to buy, but keep forgetting.

Sarah Rees Brennan’s “The Demon’s Lexicon” (YA fantasy):  OMG.  This just came out to really good reviews.  I grabbed this one.

Julie James’ “Practice Makes Perfect” (contemporary romance):  Right, everyone loves her books and I’ve never ever read one.  I figured why not.

And a couple of Suzanne Brockmann and Janet Evanovich reissues.

I could very easily have walked out with twice the number of books, but took a deep breath and told myself to stop.  So yay for cheap books, boo for bookstore closures. 

I can see why bookstores are fighting a losing battle though – when I got home and looked at my purchases, I figured that they would have been slightly more expensive had I ordered them online, but definitely cheaper than if I had bought them at full price on the high street.  I’m not sure what the solution is – bookstores somehow have to make the in-store book-buying experience something special, something worth paying a premium for.

I know I love browsing through the Waterstones at Piccadilly’s, because of the displays and how they highlight certain books.  But I only stop by if I’m in the area, I don’t go there just for Waterstones.  I’m not sure how they can make the bookstore a destination store in itself.


* Hmm.  Maybe that’s why.


8 thoughts on “Mixed Feelings

  1. Some little bookstores in my area are closing down too. But, what you said is true, “bookstores somehow have to make the in-store book-buying experience something special, something worth paying a premium for”. I love browsing in bookstores, but I hardly ever buy as much as when I go online, unless there’s a sale.

  2. Do you think it’s because of the import of the books in England?

    I admit that buying hardcovers and tradesizes are cheaper online, unless there’s a sale… but otherwise, I still buy most of my books in-bookstore…. but then, I’m in Canada…

    You did very, very good on restraining yourself LOL 🙂 I wouldn’t have been able to do it!! and it does suck that bookstores are closing 😦

  3. Sharry – I struggle to think of reasons why I would make a special trip to a bookstore, maybe author signings or similar? Or a good loyalty scheme, with discounts or exclusive book-related content? It has to be something that outweighs the convenience and the savings of buying online.

    Nath – I think it’s because online book-buying has really taken off. Five or certainly ten years ago, there was no Amazon – the high street was the only place you could buy your books. Then Amazon appeared on the scene, though you still had to pay for delivery unless you spent more than £25, IIRC. Now it’s free delivery with £5 (or completely free with The Book Depository) and with discounted prices, so it makes complete sense to buy your books online if you know exactly what you want (which I obviously do 😉 ).

    I still buy books in-store, but they’re more impulse buys than anything else.

  4. I loved ‘Practice Makes Perfect’!

    I do almost all my book shopping online these days. I don’t have a large selection of English books at my local bookstore and what one they do have are ridiculously over-priced. That said, I love strolling past the shelves and having the opportunity to hold a book in my hands before deciding to purchase.

  5. Li, this is such sad news! How things have changed in the last 4 years since I left London! I found out that Murder One on Charing Cross Road closed some time ago – and now the Borders on Oxford St! I used to go there at least once a week, and bought many books from them there. Is the Borders at Charing Cross Road (at the Tottenham Court Rd station end) still there? But then, usually it is cheaper to buy online. In the US, Borders gives out many coupons for 30-40% discounts if you are a Borders rewards member – in fact there’s a coupon every week – and I get my books from the Borders store 5 mins walk from my flat. With a coupon, Borders is the cheapest place to buy paperbacks (which are not discounted on Amazon) in the US (even accounting for the sales tax which varies depending on which state you live in).

  6. Sarah – I don’t think I’ve read one bad review of “Practice Makes Perfect”, am looking forward to it!

    I love browsing – heck, I could happily spend hours killing time in a good bookstore – but when it comes to actual buying, the majority of my purchases are online, partly due to cost, but also because of the wide selection.

    msaggie – The Charing Cross Road Borders is still there, but yes, Murder One has shut. They are still doing mail order, but that’s not really the same as visiting their small store packed wall-to-wall with books! Not sure if you were around when the Waterstones replaced the Tesco Metro on Oxford Street, but that’s closed as well and is now a Uniqlo. Borders is being replaced by New Look – lesson obviously is clothes sell better than books.

    I didn’t realise Amazon US doesn’t discount paperbacks – interesting. Borders here does offer email coupons sometimes, but it’s more like 15% off if you spend £25 or something, as opposed to the more generous offers you’ve quoted.

  7. Amazon US does not give discounts to mass market paperbacks (which most romance/science fiction/fantasy/mystery are) – these are the standard ones which are priced at $6.99 to $7.99. Trade paperbacks (which are around $12.99 to $14.99 usually) get around 20% discount generally.

    Borders has been very generous this year with the 30-40% off coupons – since the economic downturn, in fact. They need to get people buying so they can move their stock, as they are in the red. Four years ago, there was maybe one 30% off coupon a year, and the occasional 30% off if you buy more than $10 or $20. Coupons used to be around 20% off – but we pay sale taxes between 6-9% generally on top of the price of the book, so a 25% discount is less than 20% off in reality.

    I am glad the Charing Cross Rd Borders is still there! I thought the Oxford St one was the more popular one as more people are walking down Oxford St than Charing Cross Rd usually.

  8. Charing Cross Rd is quieter, but I suppose the rents must be lower than Oxford St. I’m hoping Borders doesn’t pull out of London (or the UK) completely.

    I keep on forgetting about prices being quoted exclusive of sales tax in the States – a 20% discount is still good though!

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