Adapt Or Die

Once upon a time I was searching for a particular book.  There was a huge imposing bookstore near my house.  Rather than muck around on the Internet I’d buy from actual human beings in the real world.  Mostly I wanted Instant gratification!

They had coffee, lattes, CDs, maps, gifts, magazines, chocolate, and DVDs, but not the title I wanted.  I asked the reference person to look it up.  Nope, definitely not in the store.

“Fine, I’ll I’ll order it” I said, reaching for my wallet.

“It’ll be two weeks.”  She replied.

Sheesh.  So much for instant gratification!  “OK fine.  Just ship it to my house and I’ll pay now.”

“We can’t ship it to your house.  You’ll have to come to the store to pick it up.”


“Well there’s another way.  You could order it from our on-line store, then it’ll come to your house.”

“Great!  Do it!”

“I can’t.  All I can do is ‘in-store’ orders.  You’ve got to do it yourself.”

“You want me to put my wallet back in my pocket and go home?”


“You’re serious?”


“You’re doomed.”

“Why?  What’s wrong with our on-line store?”

“You’re telling a customer to put his wallet away and then go home to place an order from the host of every on-line store in creation?  You’ve heard of haven’t you?”

“Well our on-line store is good too.”

“Yeah but nobody ever got rich telling customers to put away their wallets and go home.”

“I don’t make the policies.”

“Certainly.  Well have a nice day.”  I stuffed my wallet in my pocket and went home.

That night I placed the order with Amazon.  The book was in my hand a few days later.

After that I stopped going to the bookstore in question.  It had become a coffee shop with books for scenery.

Why am I mentioning this?  Because their demise was already a done deal and I could tell with one single book order.  The attitude and business model was a losing proposition.  That encounter was about six years ago.  Maybe the company could have been saved but I doubt it.  At any rate it’s over now.


Update: I wrote this several days ago but planned for it to go live several days later.  (WordPress calls it “scheduling” but I like to call it “ghost in the machine”.)  I thought I was the only one who noticed or cared about Borders’ demise.  Luckily The Ultimate Answer to Kings posted an opinion.  Now I know there are two of us.

They always struck me as a good idea badly done.

Farewell Borders; I’d miss them if they’d been a bookstore.

Update 2: Monster Hunter Nation has an admirable take on it too.  Far more inside information than I had as just a customer.  Hat tip to Bayou Renaissance Man.  Perhaps “ghost in the machine” is Curmudgeon Speak for “scooped by everybody”?

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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4 Responses to Adapt Or Die

  1. bob sykes says:

    You’re forgetting that Borders was once an excellent cd store. I usually spent as much time in the record section as the book section. I never once bought coffee from their coffee shop.

    The end was obvious a few years ago. The inventory began to disappear without replacement. First the record section disappeared slowly, then the book section began to shrink. The coffee shop remained open throughout.

  2. NavyOne says:

    Even better is Kindle!
    60 seconds and the book is there. . .

    • Thanks for the comment. Kindles are an enigma for me. Oh yes, 60 second delivery time is most righteous! But drawbacks abound. Being a Curmudgeon I eschew gadgetry. Circuit boards and batteries supplanting the simple killer combination of ink and paper seems like a solution looking for a problem. Some days ago I wrote a blog post saying as much.

      Then, to my surprise I found the book I’d read on paper could have been had electronically for free. Curmudgeon or not I’m also Adaptive and free is an excellent price.

      I tweaked my post to reflect my changed opinion. I still don’t have a kindle but maybe I’ll be won over by the technology. The post I mention goes live next week (I think). The delay is because I tend to schedule ahead and then go off-line a few days at a stretch…an uncommon habit among bloggers.

  3. Pingback: E-books: Resistance Is Futile | The Adaptive Curmudgeon's Blog

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