Humplife

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I just turned 47, and it's a milestone. Doesn’t look like one, does it. You think of the even years at the beginning of each decade, 30 40, 50, or even the halfway points like 35, 45, 65. 65 is big, you get discounts. 21, of course, is a biggie for some people. For me 47 feels like a big one. At 46 I was still in my mid-forties, which was practically in my thirties. In my thirties I was still young enough to do most of the stuff I did in my twenties, just not as often and with more warm-up. At 47 though, you are practically fifty. My father didn’t make it out of his fifties. My mother did, but by then the Alzheimer’s didn’t let her live on her own. Even given a rosy picture of my future, if I were a work week I’d be past lunch on Wednesday. Heck, I might even be into Thursday by now. This is Humplife.

July 25, 2011 1:29 am

Law and Order: Bookstore

When I listed the underselling of books by big retailers as a major factor in Borders demise, I was somewhat overstating the case. That is the bulk of our problem, but Barnes and Noble has that problem, Powell’s has the problem. They aren’t doing well, but they are not liquidating. We have a host of corporate mismanagement to thank. As I think about it, it’s not even mismanagement, just short sightedness. Our revolving door of CEO’s simply didn’t get the book business, or our business. Our inventory systems were so poor we never had control of our inventory. The losses from this alone were astronomical over the years, yet no one over the store level seemed to see it, or listen when we told them about it. At a time when we should have been given freedom to manage our own stores and save time and effort for the home office, it was, instead, micromanage harder.  Giving our website to Amazon was a huge one. It was too hard, I guess, or expensive to do it ourselves.

In the end the publishers wouldn’t work with us and we became non viable, a decision as short sighted on the Publishers part as anything Borders ever did. Here is my thought experiment, if there were no ebooks would Borders still be in business, and to that my answer is no. If you couldn’t buy books for under cost at these other retailers would we still be in business, and to that I give a big maybe. Would we still be in business if we had been managed competently? To this I say yes, our competitors, with exactly the same business model as us are still in business but we aren’t. I think Jack McCoy would put those guys away for life with that evidence, Law and Order the Books edition.

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