Friday, May 16, 2008

Borders Stretches the Truth?

"...and sell in your local Borders store"

" more than 1,200 Borders locations and other retail locations around the world"

"...retail stores around the world..."

How would you interpret these line from the Borders online video?

But the FAQs say: "Will Borders carry my book in the store?: Currently, Borders does not have a program for in-store placement of books published through Borders Personal Publishing. However, in-store services are being developed and are scheduled to launch in 2008. To be eligible for these future in-store programs, an Editorial Evaluation must be performed and the book must also have an ISBN assigned to it. Additional requirements to qualify for in-store programs will be outlined when each new in-store service is announced."

Surprise, surprise "editorial evaluation" means a cost of at least $299 and note, they are not even specifying what the additional qualifying requirements for this program that may eventually exist will be. Meanwhile people are being actively encouraged to give these programs as gifts, no doubt diverting young writers into a priced up version of Lulu with little more than a wink and a promise.

I feel this marketing approach is a disgrace. If shelving is not available now, and the terms under which it might one day be made available are not known, do not let people believe it is on offer. In fact given that people will start off assuming a Borders deal will involve Borders shelving they should be going out of their way to make sure that misunderstanding is not perpetuated. I am not impressed with either Borders or Lulu over this kind of promotional material appearing online and on Borders receipts.

1 comment:

Shannon Yarbrough said...

Hi Emily-

Isn't this equivalent to Amazon's Booksurge Program? Those books are only available on Amazon. Authors would have to invest more money to have the book printed at LS and offered through Ingram, but there's still no chance at shelf space in stores.

Borders has always been the odd man out, relying too much on their buyers to decide what gets shelf space, and not giving control to the store managers or community relations managers to serve the buying customer who lives in their market.

This is indeed where B&N has them beat. As a POD author, I probably wouldn't even attempt a Borders for placement. Jeremy Robinson even mentioned a list of specific guidelines in "POD People" that Borders makes you follow just to sign books there, although he did land placement in a Walden Books because the manager broke the rules.

Borders is just trying to jump on train with everyone else who has a POD program already but they are a little too late. They want to make money at it, and entice people to use them at the same time instead of someone else. But if they aren't willing to give their authors shelf space, then why bother? Borders can continue leaning toward bankruptcy and let their buyers go (several were fired this week).

The economy is changing and therefore, the book market is changing too. The shelves are already crowded with books that aren't selling, and companies like Borders aren't willing to take chances. But look at publishers. They are taking chances. Harpercollins UK launched their own writer's forum this week to find new blood the easy way. Online.

I've been saying it all along...brick and mortar stores won't have to worry about giving up shelf space to us pretty soon. With internet sales and Ereaders constantly growing, there won't be any physical shelves to stock. I'll make my own coffee at home, save gas by staying in, and save trees by downloading books to my computer. Yeah, it's sad, but it's very true. And the growth in online shopping is a POD author's dream come true.