5 December 2006

Borders v. Dymocks - is less more?

| johnboy
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On the weekend I went in to the new Borders store in the Canberra Centre to have a look at the acres of books.

Over the years, as Borders has spread across the face of the globe, I’ve heard a lot of good things about them from friends in parts foreign. That they have a coffee shop inside the store, and encourage readers to have a read of a book they fancy over coffee before deciding if they want to buy it, was much touted as a bonus.

So I was moderately excited when I walked in, expecting a cornucopia of bookish delights.

And I have to say I was underwhelmed.

Sure they have a lot of books but are they better books that what you can find in a smaller book store? If they were I couldn’t identify or find them amongst the other books. And you’re not just wading through piles of books. Cross-merchandising litters the shelves. Would you like a new skin for your iPod with that book? I wouldn’t.

The new releases section is particularly underwhelming. Not bad as such, just no different at all from any other decent book shop. More tellingly is a lack of a new release area in each of the genre sections. I don’t know about you but I go to the bookstore mostly to buy new books. Read a book a week for 25 years and you’ve in large part already read everything you want to from the back-catalogue.

Compare and contrast with my existing bookstore of choice in Civic, Dymocks. Aside from their unsettlingly sexy staff (in a movie-librarian kind of way) the new releases in each section are clearly displayed and the staff have recommendation notes on the shelves. People who work in bookstores are no bad source of information about what’s a good book.

So while Dymocks might have less books I can quickly and reliably find the books I want, and get out.

Borders on the other hand gives you acres of shelf space to browse in the slightly forlorn hope of finding something interesting, and a greater chance of finding some unrelated product to impulse buy.

And there we have it! Borders is for women!

It’s designed to maximise the time spent shopping, something that men abhor and a great many women seem to treasure. And then you can go for coffee (but don’t get too excited it’s just Gloria Jeans).

Now that I think about it my friends who spoke so glowingly of Borders all those years ago were all women too.

Which is not to say its all bad, if I was to discover a new author I suppose Borders would be the obvious place to go to get the older titles.

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I agree,
The dymocks staff in tuggeranong are sexy beats!
I live out in woop woop and i travel all that way just to experience the dazzling service and to get that giddy feeling everytime i buy a book.
Go tuggeranong go!

if you like reading you should check out project gutenberg.


Note to Canberra’s book retailers: Yes, I know you’re not a library. However, before I drop the $70 – $100 for the IT techbook I’m interested in; I find it prudent to make sure it covers what I need it to. If you could allow me to do that and try hiring staff that have some interest in book that would be super. Borders is awesome!

I buy lots (most) of my books from beaky’s second hand books – I loathe paying retail price for anything.

Absent Diane10:56 am 06 Dec 06

yup readings in carlton is great… my only issue is that it is frequented by too many hippy/bohemian types.

It was the only bookstore that I could find “The Grinch who stole Christmas”!

Woody Mann-Caruso9:30 am 06 Dec 06

I always weigh up Amazon’s mail charges against having to drive to Dymocks, find a park, wait in a queue to be served, have them order it, wait “4 to 6 weeks” (read at least 2 months) for it to arrive, then repeat most of the above to go pick the damn thing up. By the time you factor in Amazon’s heavy discounts on RRP, it’s usually a no-brainer to order it online then and there and have delivered to my front door in a week or so.

i visited borders in the jam factory and was pretty impressed. especially as they had volumes of classics with latin on one page and english on the opposite – at 65 bucks a piece. crack for book addicts indeed.

but then i started to use amazon.com and chapters.ca while still perusing dymocks and smaller bookshops.

when the old bookroom morphed into ‘asia-pacific bookroom’ i was less than impressed. now its gone altogether.

i still use dymocks because its conveniently located for me. and liek johnboy says there are some cute staff (hello to that babe with the cat tattoo on her arm…) and they dont mind ordering obscure books. i sometimes get the isbn off amazon and then wander into dymocks.

if you only want one book the amaozon mail charges can hurt. dymocks just charge the cover price.

ultimately i think borders et al are not a good thing. its not just books, its dvd’s, cd’s etc. and they are noisy. id rather go to readings than borders when im in carlton.

girlfriend dragged me in there in a state of high energy a little while ago, and was also depressed at the lack of barcoded cds for listening.
Overall, i didn’ find it really exciting either.
In fact, I couldn’t even be bothered lookin for stuff I was interested in.. I sid i was going to, then just, couldn’t be bothered.

Borders have a great selection of books.. I could spend a lot of time (which I don’t have) in there. Yay for a bit more variety in civic.

ghey -that cd thing was the whole appeal of their “Chaddy Mall” Borders – got me a cool blues harp CD there.

Probably would not have if I could not listen to it.

Its just another bookstore to me now. 🙁

Borders is great for books. For DVDs and CDs, it seems in their Canberra store they aren’t even trying. Their CD section is approximately two short rows of shelves, ditto for DVDs. But then why would they bother having large DVD / CD sections, when JB is just next door (and much cheaper)? Borders Canberra also haven’t bothered with that neat trick in their other stores where you can scan any CD and listen to the tracks – if you want to hear tracks from a CD in this store you’ve got to do it the old-fashioned way (ask one of the staff who will take you to a listening post etc).

well i kinda meant a physical book store.

I knew it existed on the web.

What effect does Borders have on the small independent bookstores? Canberra already has trouble supporting the existing chain bookstores, what’s going to happen to places like Gaslight and Paperchain and Smith’s?

I liked Borders in Melbourne for last-minute birthday gifts at 9pm on a Tuesday night. But I prefer to buy my contemporary non-mainstream fiction from people who actually read it, so I can ask their opinion on what other books I might like.

As for women’s shopping style, I admit to being a browser. I don’t read reviews of the style of book I like to read, so it’s easier to find them by browsing bookshelves or asking shop staff.

Woody Mann-Caruso2:14 pm 05 Dec 06

And there are plenty of places that stock “on My Way To Paradise”.

Danman – Does Amazon count? Cost they have your book for 1c plus shipping.

Woody Mann-Caruso2:04 pm 05 Dec 06

I don’t know about you but I go to the bookstore mostly to buy new books.

I go to the bookstore to buy books I haven’t read. It doesn’t really matter when it came out – if I haven’t read it, it may as well be a new release. I think Borders has a quote to that effect visible from the entrance.

Borders has more homebrewing books than any other store in Canberra. Ditto for cookbooks, business and history. Their children’s book section is fantastic. It’s also all very expensive (though no more than, say, Paperchain in Manuka), so I’ve tended to wander in (noting that the opening hours advertised in three subsequent catalogues bear no resemblance whatsoever to those written near the door), browse, have a coffee, read, write down the names of the books I want then get them from Amazon. I did purchase a fantasy trilogy for my sister’s birthday there, along with a couple of magazines and some Secret Santa trinkets, and I’ll get some books for my niece for Festivus there, so I guess they’re getting their pound of flesh.

Absent Diane1:06 pm 05 Dec 06

i ate your bees.

Put me down for a copy of “On My Way To Paradise” as well. I lent mine out years ago and I’m damned if I know where it got to.

I wonder if the Dymocks staff know why so many of their customers blush and stammer when they come to the counter with a purchase?

borders is like crack for book addicts.

They stock what i enjoy. And I never know what I want. The electronic ear-pieces the staff wear are also highly amusing and very FBI.

In conclusion, yay borders.

If someone can find me a copy of “On My Way To Paradise” by Dave Wolverton at any book store then ill be a disciple of that store for ever.

haha, so Dymocks is the new place to pick up is it?

If only! The Dymocks staff are, according the legend, utterly unattainable. It’s not even known if they’re really human or just cunning automatons replicating perfection.

OK, its possible they are human and someone, somewhere has asked one of them out, but It’s not known around here.

I’m all for Borders if they have more stock. I already picked up a couple of things I looked for (unsuccessfully) in six other bookshops. If it means less orders from Amazon — for anything not on the bestseller list or, yes, older than a year or two — then it’s fine by me.

Borders is pretty good at having the obscure stuff, if you’re prepared to pay extra for getting it. On the other hand, so’s the internet…

haha, so Dymocks is the new place to pick up is it?

Also in Borders (apart from being so expensive) the CD’s arnt well organised, I found Little Britain in the DVD section displayed in 3 different areas. But if you want CD’s or DVD’s just head to JB next door.

i concur on Dymocks having sexy staff. the most beautiful male specimen i’ve ever laid eyes on works in the Dymocks in Civic. Dymocks Boy, if you are reading this, i love you.

Absent Diane11:52 am 05 Dec 06

reminds me of when the big book store moved in next to black books.

From memory the borders I had been to in melbourne had a larger range of techy books than most book stores…

However dymocks in belcore seems to suit my needs for non-techy stuff.

I want my B&N!

firts one I ever visited was in ’97 in a university town in California. Like WOW! Australia had nothing like it back then.

I’m a Dymocks girl. I hate shopping, so I don’t want to spend any more time there than I have to. And the Belco store staff are great.

I rarely go into book store to browse. I go to buy a specific book, so if that means i’ve got more chance of finding it in Borders, then Borders wins.

I’ve often thought that Borders was more expensive than elsewhere; well at least in the kind of books I’m looking at.

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