Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Crossing into the Borders

I 'm always excited when I discover any new bookstore that I didn't know existed. If I was walking down a street and suddenly came across a shop with books inside, I would certainly walk in. Even so that I even walked into Salvation a few years ago (to those who don't know, like I was a few years ago, Salvation carries books on Christianity) Image hosted by Photobucket.com

You can imagine my excitement when I read the news that Borders is coming to Malaysia. I even marked the opening day in my diary. What's the use of marking events if you're not going to take part right? So I went there this evening.

I didn't join in the opening ceremony of course, like Eyeris & Daphne did, but I was hoping they will have some special events throughout the day. I mean, you are a big international corporation opening your very first shop in the country, shouldn't you make a big deal out of it? So when I walked into the shop about 7pm this evening, I kind of lost a bit of the excitement. It felt like walking to any other bookstore that I accidently came across while walking down a street. And I was a bit disappointed that there was no "Opening Day Sale", not even a mere 10% Image hosted by Photobucket.com.

I walked into the store at the first floor and the first thing I noticed was how white and bare the shop is. It's like walking into a hypermarket or a hospital. The first selections that you'll see is, of course, the latest releases and bestselling titles. This is where you can find your Dan Browns, latest Kay Scarpetta novel, etc. But I was more attracted to the ones with special offers.

Special Offers Year Round Image hosted by Photobucket.com
1. 3 for 2
Borders offer selected titles where you can buy 2 and get the third one free. There are some interesting titles but they are either ones that I don't want to own or ones that I already have. Available at children's section as well.

2. Bargain Books
They consists of some obscure titles mostly informational. I saw the whole Calvin & Hobbes range selling about RM19-90 each, even the big ones. But I grew out of Calvin & Hobbes, so no interest there. I saw some LIFE books which I usually love but the subjects doesn't interests me. Bargain books at the children's section at quite good. At the end, I manage to get Now Showing: Unforgettable Moments From the Movies and The Handy History Answer Book for RM19-90 each Image hosted by Photobucket.com.

It was mentioned that this section is updated every week so... to go or not to go....

3. Borders Best
This is similar to Kino's offer. You'll get 20% discount for selected titles with any other purchase. The ones on offer now didn't interest me either except for Revenge of the Sith novelization. But it's in HC and I want to watch the movie first.

Science Fiction = Fantasy??? Image hosted by Photobucket.com
I don't understand why they want to classify books about dragons, wizards, dwarves, fairies or magic under Science Fiction. Enough said.

Modern Lit + Classic Lit = Fiction Image hosted by Photobucket.com
I never realized that putting this two categories together could be quite efficient. For example, if you go to Kino you will find Steinbeck's books under 'Literature' but if you go to Times they will be under 'Fiction'. So what the heck, let's put them all together.

Children's Book by Age
Is quite effiecient too but I didn't check whether they arrange the books correctly or not.

The whole place is very spacious. It kind of gives you the sense that there are not so many books after all. I don't know if they're planning to add anything else or if this is it.

I'm not about to comment on the selections of the whole damn store. I read a lot but I'm not that well versed in what's good and what's not. Instead I will just measure the variety of selection based on the books that I was looking for.
1. Fyodor Dostoevsky Image hosted by Photobucket.com
They have a lot of his books. I never knew that he wrote so many short stories as well.

2. Clive Barker Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Not bad but doesn't have all of his works. I was hoping I can get the latest one Abarat: Days of Magic, Night of War. No Luck. Actually the whole Horror section is dissapointing, They only have about three shelves for Horror.

3. Gregory Maguire Image hosted by Photobucket.com
All of his books are about the other side of a fairy tale. I've read all of them except one, Mirror Mirror, about the wicked queen in Snow White. Good news, Borders have all of his books. They even have a special edition of Wicked with photos of the Broadway musical by the same name. Oh, his books are placed under 'Science Fiction'.

4. For Better or For Worse Image hosted by Photobucket.com
They have a few. I think it was about 5% of the range. I don't care, Times has more of this series and I can get 10% too.

5. Children's section Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Very good, this section took up a lot of space. A lot of titles for teenagers but according to Daphne they don't have Joan Aiken books. I also noticed they don't have the latest Artemis Fowl book. Their 'latest' is The Artemis Fowl Case Files, which came out a year ago. And the picture books are a bit lacking.

6. Parenting Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Not that impressive. Most of the books are about taking care of babies, babies' learning process etc. If your children are above 6, you won't find that many books that could help you.

7. Entertainment Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Very good. They have a lot of books about bands, artists, songbooks and films but not much about TV. I saw a lot of books on U2, more than what I can find at other bookstores. No book about CSI.

8. Others Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Other sections like business, art etc didn't impress me. I don't know if it's the way they arrange everything or there just wasn't that many books. I feel that Kino has more titles.

So that's 4 Image hosted by Photobucket.com and 4 Image hosted by Photobucket.com. A lot of room for improvements.

Hypermarket, soulless, sanitized, not cozy, cold and uninviting are words that came to my mind. They didn't even bother with any creative decor. Even the sofas looks uncomfortable. I saw some quotes here and there but I almost missed them. And they were so obscure that they didn't effect me in any way.

They hold to the principle of allowing customers to browse freely so be assured that you won't find any plastic foil between your fingers and the pages inside. It is a noble notion but I feel it is unsuitable for Malaysian market. The Malaysian general public usually treat bookstores like a library. They go there to read with no intention of buying, which is fine. But when they don't practice caution while handling the book it becomes another story altogether. I remember the time when Kino practice 'open browsing' once but then... well just look at Kino now. Every single book is wrapped, not even one copy escaped that clingy plastic thingy.

In gist, I hope that this is not it. I imagine that Berjaya was so pressed with the opening day dateline that they just go with what they have. I hope that they have some surprises yet unveiled. Borders won't be a regular visit but I do want to see if they do update their bargain books every week. Maybe I'll go again someday and see if it's worth it.

Related Blogs
1. Eyeris's On the Borders of Popular Soullessness
(For the record, I just love this title. It is a nice and concised way to describe the latest edition in the book retailing industry of Malaysia. Why can't I come up with titles like that Image hosted by Photobucket.com ) and another post
2. An Explanation for the Borders Hatred
3. Daphne's Borders
4. Kyl's If I Could Marry Borders I Totally Would

Did you post about Borders as well? Drop me a line and I'll gladly add a link to you.

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