Sorting Out the Cesspool with Brands
Heading to O'Reilly

Where Is Everybody?


I stopped by the local Borders concept store last night and was delighted to see quite a few customers on the scene.  Earlier in the year I was concerned about traffic levels but that's before several of the other stores in the new mall opened around it.  Last night featured plenty of reading, browsing and buying activity throughout the store...except for one key section....

The tech kiosk area, where you can download MP3's, research your family tree and test drive Sony's eReader was a dead zone.  Nobody was there.  No employees and not a single customer other than myself.  I probably wandered around in there for 10-15 minutes and never saw a soul.

I believe this means two things.  First, if this store is any example, people go to bookstores for books, not technology.  That's got to be a disappointing reality for Borders but I also think there may be a way to address the problem, which leads to my second point.

"If you build it, they will come" only works in the movies.  If they really want to succeed Borders needs to do something beyond just making all this technology available in the store.  Where are the in-store events (e.g., come let us help you research your family name, come see the latest e-book technologies, etc.)?  How about signage in other areas of the store that promotes the tech kiosk area?  I didn't see evidence of either last night and I can't see how they'll build any buzz for this without events/promos.


Michael A. Banks

I imagine fear is instrumental in people shying away: fear of new technology and fear of prices. Publicized events with speakers who agree to spend more time casually interacting with customers than giving formal talks would be a starting point. And let the speakers make it obvious that they're not pressing for sales, but evangelizing for interests.

Book Calendar

I would love to see a print on demand kiosk in a bookstore where you could have books printed for you from a selected list of titles not in the physical store. It would be interestings. It would be interesting if you could get an electronic download, or a physical book from the kiosk.

Peter Jurmu

Joe, your post from 9 October describes the trouble that print brands can have in creating interest in online content. Ebooks and MP3's are largely vended through online retailers. Is it possible that, in a brick-and-mortar, there won't be as much initial interest in downloading content as previously thought? When one can download an ebook or a song to one's computer and transfer it to a Kindle or iPod, or whatever, why bother driving to the bookstore? I like your ideas for promos, etc.: stores need to somehow help people justify traveling to a store to download something.

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