Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Amazon, Borders, and Barnes & Noble

As I have always freely admitted I buy too many books. I don't get crazy with it - I consider my options, get the best price, and I read everything I buy. I like to go in a bookstore, walk around, poke through the stacks, read the cover blurbs, and every once in awhile I'll just take a chance on something that looks interesting. Sometimes I make a mistake, but for the most part I'm happy with my purchases.

Of course, when Borders would e-mail me a 33% coupon twice a week I was always ready when I wanted to make my once-a-month purchase. The Borders card gave me an extra 10% on top of that as well.Occasionally they would send a 40% coupon, and around the holidays I would get a 50% coupon. I was a satisfied customer.

But of course, Borders is now in the process of going out of business. Not because of me personally, but likely because of a lot of people like me all across the country. Regardless, as of today everything in the stores is 30% off, and this percentage will go up as the weeks pass. There are still plenty of D&D books there if there was something specific you were looking for, but in general they are starting to reach the point where I would consider them picked over. Still, when they get to 40% I will likely make one last trip just to see what I might find.

So the obvious question is: what now? I have a Barnes & Noble (B&N) card, but that only gets me 10% off. They regularly mark down new releases up to 40% off, but that is a category of book I tend to avoid. I guess 10% is better then nothing, but let's face it - I'm spoiled.

And before you ask, I am avoiding the whole e-reader / IPad / tablet PC thing for now. First of the DnD books are not (legally) available in electronic format, plus I think the whole tablet PC thing is really going to evolve over the next few years. I may be in lust with the IPad, I am going to hold out for a little longer.

So what are my options? I spent some time poking through amazon.com, got an account, even got an IPhone app, but haven't purchased anything yet. I know I can save money ... but where's the tactile feel of a new book in your hands? The smell of the paper and cardboard? And poking through the stacks really isn't the same as poking through a web page is it?

Example: We played Dominion a couple of weeks ago and I really liked it. I'd like to buy a copy because I think I might be able to coerce the family into playing. But, jiminy christmas - it's $45? Well, does Borders have ... no, not anymore anyway. B&N? The local one doesn't have it. Amazon.com? It's always in stock, the price is about 1/3rd off list, plus this item has a free shipping option. Now the free shipping is the 5-8 day kind of free shipping, but you can't beat free.

Will my disdain of paying full price outweigh my covetous desire to buy that next book I want? Will heavy discounts and free shipping at amazon.com wear down my resolve? I guess I could always go to B&N to browse, but buy on-line. I wonder how long B&N will stay business? I suppose Borders failure will drive enough traffic their way to keep them going a little longer.

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