Barnes & Noble went to war against Borders the smartest way possible about 3 years ago: they started running their stores better. Ever since borders ended it’s online partnership with Amazon, they’ve had tremendous inventory management issues and organization problems that have sent a lot of customers fleeing to their brick and mortar competition or to online sales.
I go to B&N cos B&N has a good discount program. Borders gives away their discount card for free, but it’s super conditioner. With B&N’s card, it’s 20% off of a lot of stuff and 10% off of everything else. Well worth the $20 or whatever.
Then again, the B&N closest to me disappeared completely without warning recently.
I’m sure B&N isn’t enjoying this economy much, either. I am/(was?) a member of both Borders and B&N’s rewards program, and Borders basically stopped sending out offers about a year ago (I still get the odd monthly email informing me of some great deal for “Borders Rewards” customers, but when you get to the store you discover that the offer is storewide.)
B&N definitely has a worthwhile rewards program for anyone who buys books/magazines/dvd’s frequently.
I get emails from Borders a couple times a week. And yeah, some of their offers are storewide, but that’s, like, a good thing, right? Why would you be disappointed to learn that you don’t need to use your (free) Rewards card to take advantage of the 40% off any book over $10 offer? And how is “everyone gets the discount” not better than “you have to pay a yearly fee to get the discount?”
I’ve done the discount program at both stores, and don’t get me wrong–the B&N one is decent enough, if you buy a lot of stuff there. But I think Borders is generally better when it comes to discounting–they send out Rewards coupons so often that you can basically always match the discount you’d get at B&N, and often you can beat it. I never saw many (any?) 40-50% off discounts when I had my B&N card, but Borders sends out those coupons pretty frequently–once a month or so.
The main reason I go to B&N is that the store in my area is much larger than Borders–two or three times larger, actually, with a correspondingly better selection.
I’ve no problem at all with their sales being storewide offers, but it means that I’m getting no return for giving them my email address (which I admit is one I use mostly as a spam collector). I guess after having them bug me over and over for my email address, I’d like to get something for having given it up!
The biggest problem with Borders sales of late is they have the earmarks of being remainders and “everything must go” sales. They’ll do a “30% off DVDs!” sale, and you go in and the stock is more picked through than the last days of Circuit City. Or they’ll do a “25% off all CD’s!” sale, and you go there and discover the magical land of a store that has both depth and depth on the 1990’s Alanis Morisette and Bela Fleck catalogs…and not much else.
Barnes and Noble will survive as long as textbooks are still used. They’re the bookstore for almost every college campus around the nation. And god knows professors love to write textbooks and charge extortion-like prices for them.
Not that I like Barnes & Noble, but Borders always amazed me with the vastness of their stores and the weakness of their collections. At times they have had some unexpected stuff, it’s true, like the one I visited last year that had almost an entire aisle for Warhammer novels, but for the most part the ones I’ve been to have been clearly inferior stores in all departments.
I do go to a B&M B&N from time to time, but for browsing I generally go to Pandemonium, the local SF bookstore or to some used bookstore, and for a lot of other things I use Amazon.