Borders: alienating parents, people who like books, authors, and everyone under forty – since 2008!

Clearly, George Jones feels that the ridiculed Borders TV idea just needed a little bit more traction, you know, and the internets.  And the ability to make your own CD in store, as the format dies a twitching death in every other retailer nationwide.  I was hoping for a "make your own 8-track," but whatever.  Erin reports on the new Borders "concept store":

1. The principal destination areas — Travel, Cooking, and Wellness —
are all things I get from the Internet rather than the bookstore, as
are all of the Family Tree, Music, and Self-Publishing kiosk products.
No one else seemed wildly interested in any of them, either — most of
the foot traffic seemed to be in two less pimped destination areas,
Graphic Novels (which was totally meh but probably better than B&N)
and…
2. …the downright infuriating Children’s section, in which
I heard three other parents make reference to the fact that supposedly
Borders is a BOOKSTORE, and why was there suddenly much more non-book
crap than there used to be?
3. I don’t know enough about interior
design to explain why, but the new diagonally oriented layout
guaranteed that I was constantly bumping into people, stepping out of
other people’s way, encountering blind corners, unable to reach product
even though every other book was faced out (with plastic forms behind
them! ugh!), and so on.
4. Thanks to all of the above, which sections seemed to lose a lot of real estate? Guess!

She also pointed out the positives, which seem to be easily summed up as "free promotional chocolate."  So, linking her comments to my subject:  1) Anyone who knows this littlest bit about computers (everyone under forty) will find this aspect pointless at best.  2) Indeed.  Parents b-ware.  3) No connection, but doubtless annoying.  4) My guess is literary fiction.  What do I win?

Feeling a little too self-congratulatory/self-righteous, I figured I’d take a gander at the promotional hoo-ha.  And here’s the punchline:

LongPen

The new Borders concept store in Ann Arbor is
the first retail location in the nation to feature a revolutionary new
technology called LongPen™. LongPen makes it possible for Borders to
host book discussions and signings with authors, as well as music
events and appearances by celebrities who are not physically present in
the store. Video conferencing allows the authors and performers to
connect personally with their in-store fans; seeing and speaking with
each other in real time as they would in person. Yet, amazingly,
LongPen also allows the authors and performers—who may be at home or at
another location—to personalize and autograph their books, CDs and DVDs
with an authentic signature for customers in the store. It is made
possible using an electronic signing implement used by the authors and
performers that sends an Internet signal to another signing implement
in the Borders store to precisely duplicate what the author or
performer is writing. Piloted initially only in Ann Arbor for potential
rollout in other locations, LongPen will allow Borders to greatly
expand its event offering and help unite fans with their favorite
authors and performers even when they are not there in person.

I’m dropping this post in the "bookstores" category, but I reserve the right to change that later. 

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