Borders doesn't sell books

You might not have noticed this, since the change was gradual, but Borders and Barnes and Noble don’t sell books anymore.

I know you’re thinking, “umm…dude, they’re bookstores, that’s what they do, they sell books.” Well, yes, I’ll grant that they still do allow you to exchange money for a bundle of paper, but that’s not their primary business anymore. Selling books as a business model has gone the way of the buggy whip maker. Now, the objective is to provide a place for people who like books to hang out, and monetize it.

You may remember that word from the dot com crash of 1999. Let me use it in a sentence to refresh your memory:

“Our website allows users to track hot air balloons. In real time.”

“That sounds fantastic, but how are you going to monetize it?”

“Monetize? Umm…we’re just going to build a really cool website and then go public.”

”I’ll be happy to take over payments on the BMW when you go bankrupt.”

The mega bookstores clearly are not about selling books. I could sell books much cheaper using significantly less space. Hell, I could even go online and do it over the internet. Pretty clear they aren’t about providing the service of locating books either. What do they tell you when you walk in and say you’re looking for Der Einzige und sein Eigentum? Usually, they offer to order it for you.

So what, then, do I claim Borders sells? Simple, they sell a public library with less reference books and more Guide to getting it on. But there’s no money in that, so they monetize the library with selling books and coffee.