Bargain Books + Free Wifi = Goodby Borders San Francisco

By Jesse Jacobs

What’s interesting about this photo? How about the fact that this company is paying top San Francisco real estate dollar to sell bargain books, and all the while offering free wifi (where customers are capable of ordering the same bargain books cheaper from Amazon!)? What’s interesting is that they remained in business for so long operating with this as a business model. Truly I am saddened at the loss of a local book store.

I am not saddened at the loss of a big chain style store that put the local bookstore out of business. But then look what happened: Borders tried to be everything to everybody. They added in a Seattle’s Best coffee shop to be “cafe like.” But the plastic chairs, stale coffee, cheap snacks, and smile-less service didn’t make it a neighborhood coffee shop anything like Philz (across the street). And offering cheapo books could never compete with Amazon. And offering free wifi….well where’s the business in that?

I am really amazed that a company with (at one time) so much resources and power would just throw ideas at the wall never realizing that the more they threw, the less special of a business they’d become. Until now…and they are closing. I am sad because I really did like to go through there to brainstorm, browse, and, sadly never buy. Instead I would make my purchases either from Amazon, when I knew exactly what I wanted, or, from my favorite awsome local San Francisco bookstores: Christopher’s, and Green Apple books. I did mention to the manager as I was leaving that their closing was really sad and an interesting sign of the times. I also offered her an idea that I would pay real money for: 

Why not make the space really inviting, comfortable, and cool, and charge customers an entrance fee – and then just do “print on demand.” Supposedly those machines go for just $50,000, and can print and bind any pdf book! And, if the space was really cool, and comfy, and had great lighting, then I and others would happily pay an admission fee just to hang out. The manager just smiled and shrugged her shoulders. Oh well. 

Business is Nothing – But Community (Part 2)

By Jesse Jacobs
One of the funniest ironies about technology and improvement is that as we make giant technological leaps ever day, and get ever more “connected,” we are at the same time we are also getting more disconnected from each other and the world. Author Bill McKibbons wrote recently in Mother Jones Magazine that ever since 1956,…

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