At first glance, it looks like a charming independent bookstore, a West Village gem with a window display featuring artful stacks of gleaming hardcovers. But, wait a minute. Is that one book? Like, many, many copies of the same book?
[…] Raven led the old horse forward.
“Now, Mrs. Green, if you’d catch hold of the tongue. I wouldn’t ask everybody, but I know you don’t frighten.”
“How do you know?” she asked.
“They’re saying that you’re about to open a bookshop. That shows you’re ready to chance some unlikely things.”
Penelope Fitzgerald, The Bookshop, p. 14.
What’s true for a fictional character in 1961 East Anglia is truer for anybody opening a bookstore in 2011, no?
[…] What else do people think the Old House could be used for? Why haven’t they done anything about it in the past seven years? There were jackdaws nesting in it, half the tiles were off, it stank of rats. Wouldn’t it be better as a place where people could stand and look at books?”
“Are you talking about culture” the manager said, in a voice half way between pity and respect.
“Culture is for amateurs. I can’t run my shop at a loss. Shakespeare was a professional!”
Penelope Fitzgerald, The Bookshop, p. 10, where the widow Florence Green is arguing with the bank manager about buying the ramshackle Old House and converting it into a bookstore.
Fake it ‘til you make it!
Over-investment in music - while this was a big plus for this in the early to mid 90’s, this was a disaster in the long run. This is basically why the stores were too big once the music business cratered. So, stores were sized and modeled to provide a large music CD business which largely disappeared. In addition, infrastructure was sized to support this, including a dedicated warehouse distribution facility. This last part has been addressed over time, but soaked up money, time, and energy. Note that music was also part of what made Borders a destination for many customers, so when music sales tanked, other product categories’ sales suffered as well.
One of six reasons why Borders failed, according to Mark Evans, the franchise’s former Director of Merchandise Planning and Analysis.