The Bookstore of the Future

September 18th, 2011

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Borders officially dies today, with the closing of the final outlets of this once-mighty behemoth.

Barnes & Noble, we’re told, has purchased much of Borders’ intellectual property, leaving open the possibility, I suppose, of someday reopening some B&N stores somewhere and calling them “Borders.”

I, therefore, have a suggestion that I think would be palatable to those who relish the bookstore experience but who buy their books online to save money.

Forget the “superstore” or “big box store” model. We don’t need a sprawling structure filled with tens of thousands of books (half of them being titles by Stephenie Meyer or Charlaine Harris). Instead imagine a store with a more modest footprint, perhaps one the size of the old B. Dalton stores in malls everywhere.

This store would have just one or two copies of every title. And those copies would never leave the store – they would be labeled “examination” copies, available to browse through at your leisure. When you’re ready to buy it, a sales associate keys the ISBN into a computer and does exactly what people have been doing for years: orders it for you online, with next-day delivery. Or have it printed for you right in the store while you wait.

I’m like you. I love going to a big bookstore and browsing through the thousands of titles. But I also like to save money, and I buy some books online. Wouldn’t this serve both interests?

(By the way, I know I’m not the first to have this idea, but could not immediately find reference to it anywhere else with a quick Google search. If you find it elsewhere, please note the source in the comments.)

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One Response

  1. Wow, had no idea that B&N had purchased prop from Borders…INTERESTING! So it’s possible we could see even mini Borders at some point in the future. Where I live in Fairfax the old Borders location actually makes me sad (I wince) each time I drive by and see the “gaping hole” that once was filled with so much color and information. Our local Borders. The pain. I need Kleenex.

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