We’ve all heard for a while that Borders is in trouble.  Word has it that Thursday was a big lay off day for the Ann Arbor-based company.

First of all, my sympathies to everyone affected.  The economy is a bitch.

Secondly, a knuckle sandwich to Borders boneheaded management that is responsible – just as much as the economy – for the sad developments.

I’ve been a Borders slave for years.  Together with Barnes and Noble, they successfully drove out of the market the mall chain bookstores that pretty much used to define “romance friendly.”  In the hands of Borders and B & N, romance was ghetto-ized to small spaces in the back in the corner in the dark and treated like an embarrassing aunt nobody wants to have over for dinner but everybody suddenly adores come will-reading time.

Their employees snickered.  They put titles out late.  And they didn’t care that I cared.  I can’t count the number of times I complained about the unavailability of titles only to be confronted with a blasé manager who clearly didn’t give a crap. 

And then there was red suspenders guy, the bane of Washington, DC romance readers.  A long-time Borders employee stationed at the Information Desk next to romance, he sneered, stared, and pissed me off nearly every time I walked in the store.  See, he has “better” taste and he’s all about everybody knowing just that. 

It’s always ground my gears to pay for shipping and handling since I live in a major metropolitan area, so for years I shopped there every friggin’ week.  With no competitors to choose from – at least, no competitors who would dirty their hands with romance, anyway – I was stuck.  But not anymore.

Now there is Kindle.  I’m not happy about Amazon having any kind of a monopoly because that is pretty much always a bad thing, but there are many things I love about Kindle.  Like the instant downloads.  And the prices.  And the fact that I can use it free of my computer without having to bother with any Mac work-arounds.  And, most of all, I love being free of the tyranny of Borders.  I know that lately Kindle has been decreed uncool, but for me right now, it’s a terrific solution.

So, while I mourn the employees out of work and those who will be in the future, I hope somebody, somewhere who matters will realize that this is about more than the economy.  This is about a company with their corporate heads determinedly in the sand playing with the lives and livelihoods of employees and authors and publishers by doing bad business.   Day after day and year after year.  

Someday soon there’s going to be one store to buy electronics, one for linens and housewares, and one for books.  And there’s more than just the economy at fault.

-Sandy AAR

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47 Responses to Borders

  1. library addict says:

    I guess I’ve been lucky. The Borders/Waldenbooks stores in Las Vegas were very romance friendly with wonderful staffs. The lone Borders store where I live now has a well stocked romance section right near the front of the store. Too bad it’s located in the next town, so I rarely make it over there. B&N in both places is very un-romance friendly, at least in my experience.

    I used to spend a lot more money and buy just about every book I read. Now I make more use of the public library and only buy the books I know I will reread, at least for the most part.

    I hope Borders doesn’t go under altogether. I like brick & mortar bookstores. I like to browse and check out new-to-me authors. I am much more likely to impulse buy at the store than I am on-line.

    E-readers are still too pricey for me plus there’s the whole DRM issue.

  2. Gail says:

    My Borders(there are two in my city) have always done pretty well by me. I’ve never had a major problem getting books late-though I’ve occasionally sent an employee into the back to get something that hadn’t been shelved yet-and I know that at one my local locations there is someone who knows and cares enough about romance to put together displays highlighting local romance authors. Given your description of your local store I’m thanking my lucky stars.
    My problem with Borders is much more recent, the past couple of months books I’m looking for that I would have expected to be able to find there in the past aren’t. I bought a number of books by Cameron Dokey from the Once Upon a Time series at my local stores, but when I went looking for the newest I checked inventory online and got a new and annoying note on their website “not available in stores”. I ran into it again last night checking on books in MaryJanice Davidson’s Jennifer Scales series. The really weird thing about that note is the titles it’s attached look they’re only available through the website, instead of also having an option to have a local store order it. On the bright side one my local independent bookstores offered to discount titles 25% for ordering through them. Frugal Muse is going to make that sale.
    I was raised in a house where DRM issues are considered before any purchase which makes buying e-book from anybody but Baen unlikely.

  3. Danielle D says:

    I have to admit that my Borders/Barnes stores were romance friendly too. But I used to loved Waldens — they were not only romance friendly but people friendly too!!! I would hate to see just one bookstore standing and I too hope that they do not go out of business.

    I have a Sony Reader which I love and I have many many books on it…but to me nothing feels as good as holding a book in your hand.

    I’m lucky I have a Barnes and Borders about 15 minutes from my house and they are about 1/2 mile from each other.

  4. Karen says:

    The Borders Books I go to here in Houston has a pretty good romance section, but my problem is that the closest one to me is about a 35 minute drive in crappy traffic (they’re always working on the roads here!). But, there is a dearth of bookstores, in general, around my neighborhood, so I do what I must. I LIKE going to bookstores, I LIKE browsing the bookshelves. But, because of the major inconvenience of not having a bookstore closer to my own neck of the woods, I’ve started buying many from Alibris, Amazon, even directly from the publisher’s websites. And I like the instant gratification of ebooks, too. But the readers are so expensive!

    On that note, I wish the big-wigs at Borders would listen to we, the readers, and implement some of the very good ideas I’ve seen floating about on this blog or that recently. Here’s an EXCELLENT one written a few weeks ago by Lori Devoti over at Romancing the Blog:

    One of her ideas, which I heartily agree with, is that these bookstores should sell e-book readers and e-books directly from their location and make a bit of profit from this new medium as well.

  5. AAR Sandy says:

    ibrary addict: I have a real affection for brick and mortar stores, too. But I truly believe that the retail environment is going to be changing dramatically — and not for our benefit. I admire your book-buying stand and wish I could get there, too.

    Gail: I had nothing but problems with Borders and their “check inventory” function. As often as not, it would say that the book was “likely in store” when it wasn’t. Because it was in a box still unpacked by Borders employees. This new problem sounds like an inventory reduction issue. I think all stores are reducing inventory and midlist books are going to be harder to find. All in all, things aren’t going to be getting any better for readers.

    Danielle D: Ah, yes, the Waldenbook days! There used to be a Waldenbooks at one mall that was always excellent and a B.Dalton at another — and they both had well-stocked romance sections obviously cared for by someone who knew what they were doing.

    Karen: Thanks for the very interesting link. Some definite good thoughts there.

    And I’m glad everybody is reporting better experiences with Borders. Sadly, there are three or four stores in this market and they all suck.

  6. LinnieGayl says:

    I used to have wonderful experiences with a couple Borders in the Chicago suburbs. I could basically find anything I wanted at Borders, and the staff were quite nice. In fact, they would sometimes have notes about their “favorites” by books.

    Where I live now there are no nearby Borders, and only several Barnes and Nobles that are definitely not romance friendly. In fact, they have very strange selections for romance. In their “new books” sections, they’re often featuring romances that were released months earlier, and I can virtually never find any “hot” books (JD Robb, Nora Roberts, SEP to name a few) even a week after they’re released, let alone the day of release. I switched to a Kindle for many of the reasons you mentioned, Sandy.

  7. AAR Sandy says:

    LinnieGayl, I will never forget the time I came in several days after release in specific search of a Nora Roberts title — I think it was the final one in one of her trilogies. You know, one of those NYT bestselling trilogies. Anyway, when it came through as not in the store after I got one of those “likely in store” search results, I was informed by a don’t-give-a-rip Borders employee that it was probably on a truck somewhere. A major, people-are-really-looking-forward-to-it release several days AFTER the lay down date and the store doesn’t even know where it is. Now that’s good business!

    Another favorite Borders moment: I was at the register paying for several romances. Two of the employees behind the counter began snickering loudly about the book How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire. Now, I wasn’t buying that book, but I was BUYING romances. It was actually kind of shocking to me that they would be that disrespectful of a book — and a customer.

  8. LinnieGayl says:

    Sandy, with those experiences, I can’t blame you at all for not wanting to go into a Borders. I’ve had clerks roll their eyes at me in several bookstores when I was purchasing a romance novel. Believe, me, I haven’t gone back in those bookstores.

    And I too miss Waldenbooks and B.Daltons in the malls. They were very romance friendly.

  9. Shanna says:

    I’ve never really had a problem with Borders before, I actually like them better than Barnes & Noble. I live within 15 minutes of both in the DC suburbs and chose Borders every time. Their romance section is pretty good and the people are nice. I usually have a good idea what I am looking for when I go and generally it is there. I don’t like buying from Amazon because I live so close and I’m just not going to pay shipping and handling. Plus I like to go in and browse the stacks. Sometimes when I don’t have any idea what I want or am just in the mood for a particular genre I go in and browse and almost always find something. Not sure if they have this at other Borders but they have a “if you like this author you may like this author.” Sometimes they also have a employee recommends sticker under a particular title too. My Borders is also good at putting romance novels with the new paperbacks section when you walk in the store, I find that B&N doesn’t do this as well.
    As for buying in a big chain store I got over being embarressed by buying romances a long time ago, and now I walk up proudly to the counter and just give them a look of “I dare you to laugh at me,” so what I like romance, I like happy endings so sue me. Borders employees have never snickered at me before and I’ll continue to go there as long as they remain polite.

  10. AAR Sandy says:

    Shanna: Glad you have had better experiences than I have at Borders. Re the new paperback table: Publishers pay for spots on that table so that isn’t an individual store decision. It’s great placement for books, I agree, and sometimes it’s a pleasure to walk in and find what you’re looking for so easily.

  11. panthercrawl says:

    When I moved to the suburbs from my big east coast city for love the first thing I noticed – there were no bookstores. I have to drive 30 minutes to hit a bookstore (a humongo B&N where romance is sent to the corner with one aisle). So I pretty much use Amazon and despite the lack of bookstores, the library (combining all branches in the county) has been pretty good (but I normally have to place a hold and have things shipped from branch to branch).

    So I asked my husband (who grew up where I moved) “Does nobody read in the suburbs?”. His response “Nobody reads as much as you”. I guess not if they dont have a bookstore.

  12. AAR Sandy says:

    panthercrawl, I feel your pain. I grew up in a small Southern town with NO bookstore. Not a single one. That was before the days of the Internets and I relied on my town and school library for books and THE drugstore (singular) for paperbacks. Thank God they had Laura London!

  13. LeeB. says:

    Before I started buying books strictly online I would go to the local Waldenbooks, which had fantastic staff and an excellent selection. That store closed but Brentano’s carried on the tradition. Then, that store closed.

    I occasionally browse in both the downtown Borders and Barnes & Noble stores which have really good romance sections so obviously the staff/management knows there is a good market here in Seattle.

    LinnieGayl and Sandy: I still can’t believe that bookstore staff people are so immature and rude as to sneer at customers’ purchases. I wonder how they react when people purchase self-help books for addictions and/or bedroom activity.

  14. AAR Sandy says:

    Excellent point, LeeB. And I am heartened to hear that so many others have positive Borders and B & N stories.

  15. Twila Price says:

    Wow. I just… I live in Ann Arbor, and have been going to Borders since it was just a one-store phenom… and I have NEVER EVER had any employee there give me grief about my genre picks (I am a romance/mystery/fantasy/sf/historical non-fiction/YA geek, depending on the day and phase of the moon). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I am a twice-a-week regular who is known to employees by name and preferences and that I’d probably go all cranky on them if they even dared suggest that what I read isn’t okay. Though, y’know, even in the snooty pre-chain days when you had to fill out this long form about literature to even be *considered* as an employee, none of the clerks really seemed to be making fun of the romance/sf readers I really *like* my Borders store.

    And I’m really unhappy that it seems to be going under. I have noticed the dearth of new titles and the proliferation of gaps in the shelving, and I’ve commented on same to the people working there, who just say that it’s a corporate decision… and they hate it too. I do buy at Amazon or local independent booksellers, if I really gotta have the book in question, but I’d rather have my old Borders back.

  16. Katie Mack says:

    Sandy, I am so thankful that I haven’t had the same experiences as you at Borders. The Borders in my area–and there are several–all have pretty good romance sections located in the front of the stores. As for the B&N’s in my area, however, their romance selections suck. I’ve had the same experiences with them that LinnieGayl mentioned.

    But even though I haven’t had bad experiences at Borders, I don’t shop there anymore because I have discovered a local new/used bookstore that is absolutely fabulous. The sheer enormity of their romance section boggles my mind. It’s so big they have double aisles devoted to each contemp/suspense, paranormal, erotica, ethnic, historical, series, chick lit, and Nora Roberts. I heard the owner saying the other day that she has over half a million books in her inventory (95% used), and most of those are romance.

    Needless to say, it is a very romance-friendly place to shop. Nearly all the employees read romance, and nearly all the new books brought in are romance. The owner is also great about fulfilling customer requests. A few months ago I asked her if she was going to get the new Deirdre Martin title in and her response was, “I am now.”

    After experiencing the mass market feeling of the chain bookstores, it is so nice to walk into a bookstore with an incredible selection and where everybody knows your name. I count myself very lucky.

  17. RobinB says:

    I live an equal distance between the local Borders and B&N, so I shop at both. Like others who have commented, I can’t say that any employee at either store has ever “sneered” at my purchase of romance novels. The local Borders has a larger selection of current romance novels than does the B&N, but I’m lucky in that within 10 minutes of where I live there are 2 used book stores! And as someone else mentioned, used book stores have a great selection of romance novels, both current and backlist. I really hope that Borders doesn’t go under–as a former librarian, I hate to see any enterprise involving books fail!

  18. AAR Sandy says:

    Twila, you’d think my store would know me, too, after all these years…but, well they don’t! Sounds like your store is a great place to shop.

    Katie, that sounds like a wonderful bookstore. What I miss about Waldenbooks and B. Dalton wasn’t the personal service that you have which sounds incredible, it was just…well, the respect for the genre that was reflected in the careful way books were shelved. It invited browsing.

    BTW, I know some commenters have mentioned the “If you like” cards on the Borders shelves. It was my personal mission for several years to drop the “if you like Connie Mason” shelf card behind the books every time I saw it. Damn thing kept reappearing!

  19. AAR Sandy says:

    RobinB, the best UBS in my area (meaning the one that actually carries romance) is a good 45 minute trip and it’s been a long time since I’ve made the trek. There is one much touted UBS in Silver Spring, but when I made the trip they didn’t seem to have much.

    Clearly, I don’t seem to have good luck.

  20. Lynn Spencer says:

    Yikes! Even though I’m close to DC, the experience is so much different here in VA. The Barnes & Noble in Springfield is a little lacking in selection, but their staff tend to be very helpful. And Borders in Fredericksburg and Stafford are both little romance meccas. Their romance section is bigger than at most chain stores. They usually get their releases out on time, and have a decent number of backlist selections, too.

  21. Julie says:

    I hope Borders doesn’t go under. I never had problems at the one I shopped in Ohio nor the one I shop here in Orlando. However, I like them b/c I refuse to pay full price for anything and you get coupons when you join their rewards program. (which you don’t have to pay for!!!). I also like that practically every hardback new release is 30% off at Borders. BN doesn’t always do that and $26 is a lot of money to pay for a book, IMO.

  22. Rebekah says:

    I don’t see why kindle should be unpopular. It’s fantastic in terms of getting the books you want when you want.

    Borders though…A worker at my local borders once spoke very loudly about how romance novels were not “real” books…while I was browsing in the romance section and had, count’em 8 books. I dumped them on her cart and told her that I wouldn’t be shopping there anymore and then informed her manager. That Borders totally closed less than a year later. because their people were jerks, I swear.

  23. Katie Mack says:

    Rebekah — Way to go! Your response to that employee’s behavior was perfect. I am so tired of hearing romance novels dismissed as “fluff” or lesser than other books in some way. And on a side note, does it bug anyone else that romance novels written by men are hailed as acclaimed works of literature, but the same novel published by a woman would likely be dismissed as “fluff”?

  24. KristieJ says:

    Unfortunately the situation in Canada is worse. While you have two major chains – we only have one – Chapters/Indigo. There used to be more but Indigo slowly bought them all out. And Walmart cut back drastically in their book department. So there are many, many books that just aren’t on the shelves here. The latest loss for the average Canadian romance reader I’ve noticed is Untamed by Pamela Clare. I’ve looked online at stores all across the country since they have a feature on their website that allows for that – and nothing – not from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia!!!!
    Since I’m constantly checking and looking for books on the internet, I can see them online and order them that way – but what about the average romance reader who doesn’t spend a lot of time doing that. Makes me angry I tell you!!! For both the authors who are missing out on sales and readers who are missing out on good books.
    I really don’t understand the short sightedness of the PTB at the top of the chain stores. I wish they would just realize that ROMANCE SELLS!!

  25. Anna Lee Huber says:

    Beyond corporate mishandling, could a great deal of the issues we have with individual Borders/Barnes & Nobles stores have a lot to do with the local management? The Borders in my city in Indiana is fantastic. I have lived in several cities, and I have to say the one here is the best. The romance section is always very well stocked and well located. They have a great deal of marketing space at the front, and I have always been pleased by the amount of romances they showcase, publisher sponsored or not. They even often have romances on the shelves up to a week ahead of release date. The staff and managers are very friendly, helpful and diverse. From all the comments above, I really feel I should praise the managers at my store. It sounds like, despite any corporate decisions, they have done a good job of keeping their stores romance friendly.

    A new Barnes & Nobles store opened up just across the street, and although the amount of shoppers in Borders hasn’t seemed to have gone down, I have worried about the fate of my Borders store. The BN is much more like the stores we have been complaining about. I also buy a lot of my books at Walmart (price, convenience) or Amazon – but with Amazon I simply wait until I have $25 or more to order and get free shipping.

    I would truly mourn the loss of my Borders, not only for the ease of purchasing books, but for the atmosphere it provides. I love to go to bookstores and browse and relax. Nothing smells more wonderful. I truly hate hearing that not everyone has the same experience at their local store. Many of you say you wouldn’t miss them or have stopped shopping at them, I just wish you could get better management. Borders/BN can be romance friendly, if the managers and staff choose to make it so. (And, boy, wouldn’t they reap the profits if they did.)

  26. Gail says:

    Sandy: I understand the problems regarding the “check inventory” feature. I’ve only had it happen once or twice that it failed me, but it’s incredibly annoying when it happens. Given the problems you have with the staff at the store in question, a phone call to double check probably doesn’t look real attractive. Have you ever complained? Seriously alienating heavy readers is not something the staff at any book store should be doing at all, but in this economy you’d think they would be especially worried.
    Thanks for your educated guess as to what’s happening to the stocking policies, although it’s bad news. Particularly since a better selection of mid-list authors is what has been driving the preference for their stores in my family for years.

  27. Susan/DC says:

    If Borders closes I will sorely miss it. I go to the same one AAR Sandy goes to so know exactly what she’s talking about, but I pick a brick-and-mortar store over Amazon whenever I can because I love walking down the aisle and browsing. I know Amazon offers the ability to “search inside”, but it’s awkward to me. Part of it is that I spend my day on a computer and need to spend some time away from a screen if I’m to remain sane, but part of it is serendipity — when I browse I find the new, the unexpected, the book that someone mentioned but that I’d forgotten the name/author of so couldn’t search for. It’s somewhat the same reason I like newspapers. Online stuff is great when you know what you want and can do a directed search, but the new and the unexpected is (for me at least) part of what I love about book stores and newspapers.

  28. Kaia says:

    This reminds me of a pamphlet we got from Costco a few months ago. It was promoting their book sales, and had interviews with their 3 major buyers. They talked about how large their market share was, and how even in the past few years, they have exponentially expanded their book sales. In all this *rah rah* talk, there was very minimal discussion of romance. In fact, I think there was discussion of one book, but it was by an author that has moved from romance to women’s fiction. I was very dissappointed, because the discussion was about the proliferation of women buying books; both as the buyers for Costco and as the shoppers at Costco that were buying for their entire family.

  29. AAR Sandy says:

    Lynn and Julie: Color me jealous of your little romance meccas. Seriously.

    Rebekah: I’m wiht Katie Mack. Way to go! (Don’t you love it when you have one of those moments when you think of EXACTLY the right thing to say at EXACTLY the right moment?)

    KristieJ: I share your outrage. Pamela Clare, to use your example, will never get the sales from the casual reader who happens to see her book in the store, picks it up, and is intrigued. Things are going to be ever more grim for the mid lister. Lack of competition is a HUGE issue and that’s exactly what I’m afraid we’re going to get to here in the states, too.

    Anna Lee Huber: I do think that it has a lot to do with local mismanagement. Problem is, regional managers change and it never seems to get any better. At some point, you just throw your hands up in the air.

    Gail: I know I’m a big talker, but guess what I just did? I bought a book at Borders! (Drood by Dan Simmons) I’ve been home for a few days under the weather and just popped out and I had a coupon and ..well, heck I just did my part to keep Borders — warts and all — around.

    Susan/DC: And I said “hi” to Red Suspenders guy for you while I was there. Clearly, my affection for brick and mortar remains. Even with all those really big warts.

    Kaia: Well, color Costco clueless. And insulting, while we’re at it, too.

  30. Cawm says:

    Kristie J, You’re so right about Chapters/Indigo. First Chapters bought Coles, then Indigo bought Chapters, and now they control most of the bookstores in Canada. None of their stores have nearly the romance selection that can be found at Borders. Recently they’ve made the situation even worse. I used to order books online from Indigo, including books not yet published, to bring the total up to the free shipping amount. Now, even if the total reaches the correct amount, they add a separate shipping charge for each title not yet published. Here’s what it says on their site:
    “Pre-order items are not eligible for Free Shipping and Handling. Since they will ship separately, pre-order items have a separate shipping fee of $5.99 per item. However, the value of your pre-order item(s) is included towards the $39 Free Shipping offer. ”
    $5.99 shipping for every title, including paperbacks. I now use

  31. Steph says:

    I have a brand new Borders concept store in my town and I love it. (They actually do sell e-readers, but not having one, I’m not sure about the books to go with it), but they are definitely going for a more technology friendly feel all the way around. The help is hit or miss, as is the ability to find the particular romance I’m looking for…and sometimes I think where they choose to stock things is just bizarre…but I love to shop there.

    Rebekah…all I can say is GOOD FOR YOU!

  32. Beth W. says:

    The closest Borders is about 45 minutes away, same for B&N. So I don’t shop at either very often, but I have never had any problems with either of them. We don’t have any bookstores around here, so if I can’t get the book I’m looking for at Wally world, I order online.

    The only time I’ve run into romance snobs when shopping for books is at our local FOL sale. More than once, I’ve heard the volunteers working the sale critisizing romances, while I am shopping the romance books in front of them. Since they were volunteers and it’s a good cause and good deal, I’ve never said anything, but now that it’s happened more than once I’m really getting peeved about it.

  33. Jean W. says:

    To the fellow Canadians: I’ve actually found Chapters/Indigo relatively good, in the romance department, and the World’s Biggest Bookstore in downtown Toronto puts the romance section AT THE FRONT of the fiction department. As in, if you want to get to the highbrow literature at the BACK, you have to walk past the lesser genres of Romance, SciFi/Fantasy, or Mystery to get to “real stuff”. I love it there. But I also agree that the slow but sure marginalisation of smaller bookstores is killing the diversity across the board.

    I’m currently living in New Zealand, and I would kill for a good Barnes & Noble or Chapters. Romance here is almost non-existent (and I’ve been to chain bookstores in Australia that don’t HAVE romance sections), and the chain bookstores seem to favour very recent Avons (and NOT the quality ones, in my opinion) with a smattering of Pocket and Dell. And there are some very suspicious holes in their shelves – a romance section without Mary Balogh, Julia Quinn, or Lisa Kleypas?? I’m not talking the latest titles, I’m talking those authors, PERIOD. And a NZ bookstore that doesn’t carry Nalini Singh – who happens to live in NZ and is one of the biggest paranormal phenomena in recent years??? Oh wait, I forget, she’s ROMANCE paranormal. Maybe that explains it. I just got back to the boons from a trip to Auckland, where I went on a major USB spree (and their secondhand stores, thankfully, make up for the deficiencies of the new ones), where I stocked up on enough romance novels to last me a good long while. Cause it will be a while. I love it here, but there are some things I really, really miss about North America….

  34. Bee says:

    I feel your pain, Sandy. I used to adore Waldenbooks because I thought they were very customer service and romance/fiction friendly. I, also, agree with you that the nature of the publishing world will ultimately change due to both the online book shopping (Amazon with no shipping and sales tax charges) and e-book phenomenon. I have a Sony reader which I love (so I guess there is not a total Kindle monopoly, although that is what Amazon would want us to believe) and even with the cost of the device it has truly made my reading experience more pleasurable because I can have multiple books that I am reading at my fingertips at the same time.

  35. Michelle says:

    I also live in the D.C. area. I buy most of my romances at the union station bookstore, the 18th & L Borders, the dupont books-a-million or the B&N at Clarendon. A few years ago, the Borders’s romance section improved greatly – I think it was a company-wide initiative. They tend to have everything I’m looking for really quickly. I’d actually say they’re better than Barnes and Nobles is at getting the latest romances on the shelf quickly, and lots of B&N’s carry category. I can’t say they have a romance-friendly vibe from the staff, but I can get the books I want typically.

    I’ve never been able to find a romance-friendly UBS in the area – I’m really surprised at that. Fortunately, I can afford to buy new…

  36. AAR Sandy says:

    Bee, I do miss Waldenbooks. And I’m an e-reader convert, too. Love my Kindle.

    Michelle, I do occasionally hit the B. Dalton (is that what it still is?) at Union Station and they do tend to have a pretty good selection. The 18th and L Borders is also the best in the area, IMO, with regards to selection and getting books out. However, the Borders to which I am usually sentenced (and the home of Red Suspenders guy) is the Friendship Heights store, which is the most convenient for me. As for UBS, C & W books way the hell out in Chantilly has a great selection. It’s a road trip, but well worth it — you can literally spend hours there.

  37. Iris says:

    Hey guys,
    After reading the numerous replies, I suppose that I am quite lucky that my local books store carries mostly all the latest titles. BTW, I live in Asia! We have a Borders here but it has a limited number of books from our favourite genre.
    Anyway, the people here don’t even bat a eyelash when I put the books at the cashier counter (unless it has a very blush-inducing cover).

  38. Gwenhwyfar says:

    Well – I shop exclusively at my local BAM and not only are the staff NOT snobbish, but a number of the salespeople read romance (voraciously), but will also hold back a new release for me – and will let me know when new titles by my fav authors are in. They are always recommending authors to me and talk enthusiastically about the books they are reading. On a couple of occasions when I went in and a new release was sold out out, have had a salesperson RETURN the copy she had just bought for herself so I could buy it. Customer service truly is not dead everywhere.

  39. Schola says:


    We don’t have Borders where I live, but my own favourite chain bookstore has a staff that has been trained to respect customers’ reading preferences. I’ve never felt uncomfortable bringing a Romance with even the most explicit of covers to the till–though I always look for a till with a female attendant rather than a male one, just in case!

  40. AAR Sandy says:

    Iris: When I hear complaints about the lack of romance in some countries (wasn’t somebody here complaining about New Zealand?), I’m glad to hear you’re having better luck.

    Gwenhwyfar: Sounds like BAM heaven.

    Schola: As I’ve said to others here who talk about their bookstores, I’m jealous. Seriously.

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