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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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33 Responses to
Borders v. Dymocks – is less more?
Woody Mann-Caruso 2:04 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 Diane 1:06 pm 05 Dec 06

i ate your bees.

Sikkukkut 12:57 pm 05 Dec 06

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?

kaydo 12:23 pm 05 Dec 06

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.

Danman 12:20 pm 05 Dec 06

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.

johnboy 12:20 pm 05 Dec 06

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.

random 12:17 pm 05 Dec 06

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.

simto 12:16 pm 05 Dec 06

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…

bighead 12:12 pm 05 Dec 06

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.

toastie 11:53 am 05 Dec 06

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 Diane 11:52 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.

Pandy 11:46 am 05 Dec 06

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.

LurkerGal 11:40 am 05 Dec 06

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.

Sammy 11:38 am 05 Dec 06

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.

Mr Evil 11:33 am 05 Dec 06

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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