Local Booksellers Racing to Fill Borders-Shaped Hole

If you've been one of the many circling the carcass of the Borders in Brentwood at its going-out-of-business sale (and, judging from the length of the lines, which are Christmas-length, you probably are), you may have observed this leaflet on the checkout counter:

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​This is not an act of corporate espionage, however. Well, not completely. The leaflets are there at the invitation of David Huffman, a Borders manager, who told Pudd'nhead Books' children's buyer Melissa Posten to bring them in.

Huffman worked at the now-defunct Library Limited, which sold out to Borders in the early 1990s. "He's either a disgruntled Borders employee," jokes Pudd'nhead owner Nikki Furrer, "or he's looking for a job. I don't know if we can afford him."

Pudd'nhead can, however, afford Borders' shelves, which Furrer has been buying up to furnish her new space in Webster Groves.

Furrer, along with her fellow local booksellers, is trying to lure former Borders customers before they decide to start doing their book-buying exclusively at Amazon.

Pudd'nhead, which competed with Borders on local school events, is hoping to corner the school sales market. Left Bank Books, meanwhile, has already received calls from book clubs who used to order their books through Borders and hold their meetings there.

As for Barnes & Noble, Borders' most obvious competitor: Daily RFT's phone calls for information about how their business is faring in the face of the enormous going-out-of-business sale have gone unreturned. B&N has, however, been in talks with Liberty Media for some time; originally Liberty Media was going to buy out the bookseller, but the Wall Street Journal reports that, due to financial constraints, Liberty's now talking about becoming an investor. Meanwhile, the Journal also reports that B&N's stock prices fell more than ten percent Wednesday.

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3 comments
David Huffman
David Huffman

I am the Borders manager in question, and I can assure you I am neither a disgruntled Borders employee, nor am I looking for a job. I loved my time with Borders, and can honestly say it is the most fulfilling job I have ever had. Nothing matches the sheer joy of finding that perfect fit for a guest. Over the 12 years I have been with Borders, I have watched kids go from attending our storytimes to prepping for the ACT. I have watched customers fight cancer and win; I've also watched them lose. Hell, I've even met a couple of my exes at the store. Our store is a second home for many of our guests and, with our impending closure, I wanted to make sure that they knew of all their available options, which is why I made the offer to not only share Puddn'head's flyers, but those of any other independent that was interested in doing so. Corporate or independent, we are all still booksellers.

Amy_in_StL
Amy_in_StL

My boyfriend went into Pudd'nhead books for the first time after eating breakfast around the corner one Sunday. The customer service was bad. When the girl behind the counter finally asked if we needed help we described a book by a local author we were looking for and couldn't find. She said she'd look it up and let us know if they had it. She then went on to chat with her significant other and 20 minutes later we left and found the book at Barnes and Noble - with help from an employee there. We both marveled at how an independent store expects to survive with terrible service.

graestan
graestan

You know, I don't shop for books based on pretentious notions like "independent" and so forth. Every corporate monster started out as a guy selling insurance or a mom and pop grocery store. I shop for books largely because I want to get my money's worth. If these little places are going to offer good sales facilitated by their increased market share, I am in. If not (if I would only buy books from the Used Basement at Left Bank, for instance), I am going to Amazon for my needs.

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