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Borders v. Dymocks – is less more?

By johnboy 5 December 2006 33

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.

What’s Your opinion?

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Borders v. Dymocks – is less more?
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Barbara 6:21 pm 08 Dec 10


brittamon 3:13 pm 08 Mar 07

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!

bonfire 5:54 pm 06 Dec 06

if you like reading you should check out project gutenberg.


podfink 4:52 pm 06 Dec 06

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!

VYBerlinaV8 10:57 am 06 Dec 06

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

Absent Diane 10:56 am 06 Dec 06

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

kennardly 10:48 am 06 Dec 06

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

Woody Mann-Caruso 9:30 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.

bonfire 9:11 am 06 Dec 06

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 and 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.

andy 4:28 pm 05 Dec 06

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.

Unbeliever 3:12 pm 05 Dec 06

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.

Danman 3:00 pm 05 Dec 06

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. 🙁

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