Remember Borders Book Stores?

Who’s next?

I was so excited when Borders arrived in New Zealand. I used to love going to the Borders stores on trips to the USA. There were frequently book signings, bands and recording artists, like the BB King autobiography launch in Chicago. You could read books in the cafe and no one would look at you as if to say don’t smudge that page, cause you’re buying it. People in the different departments knew about their topics and loved books and sharing their knowledge.

I walked past the site of the old Westfield Albany Borders store site yesterday, it had changed to Whitcoulls brand in 2012. A year later they were back in a much smaller site, obviously the sales volume didn’t cover the cost of such a big site. They had tried to embrace eBooks for a while, but selling expensive readers and not making it simple for your average reader to get books for them just further demolished their traditional business.

Meanwhile some of the smaller owner operator stores followed the example of retailers such as Pages & Pages in Australia, by installing eBook Kiosks in store back at the end of 2011.

In recent years eBook kiosks have arrived all over the place. They are in convenience stores, magazine stores, libraries, airports and train stations. They all come with their own WiFi network and are very user friendly.

Many combine loyalty and the profiling that we continue to enjoy from Amazon, giving us recommendations on what we may enjoy reading and the instructions are simple enough for most people to step through.

If you’re heading for a flight or will have time to read the book within 21 days you don’t even have to buy them any more. International libraries mean that pretty much any book you could want to read can be available to you on demand.

Personally a favorite feature for me is the international eBook gift registry system. I remember a couple of years ago when I was having a browse at the kiosk at Schiphol Airport on the way back from a location based marketing conference in Amsterdam and saw that my wife had prepaid for copy of the second in the new Stephen King Joyland series for me to read on the flight home. Just as well she doesn’t read King books though or I might never get her into an amusement park again!

The other thing I love about these kiosks is we now get books released all over the world at the same time, which was one of the reasons I used to buy my books from Amazon, I didn’t want to wait 2-3 months after the official US launch of King books before the publishers launched the new best seller here in New Zealand to coincide with Fathers’ Day.

Anyway, RIP Borders, you left too soon. It’s a shame you stopped innovating. You didn’t need to go under, you just needed to be smarter than the rest which you used to be. It’s funny how industries work so hard to create a self fulfilling prophesy that they can blame when things go wrong.

The cool thing is that people haven’t stopped reading. If anything they are reading more than ever and smart writers and publishers are doing very well:)


The Super Debate in New Zealand

The debate over retirement age and superannuation just got interesting in New Zealand and in ways I certainly didn’t expect. Treasury increased the age of eligibility for the old age pension from 65 to 67 back in 2013 and now they want to scale it up every year to the age of 70, claiming that the burden is now too high for tax payers with average life expectancy in New Zealand for men and women combined now reaching 84 and almost 40% expected to reach 100.

Holidays may be out for seniors who don’t keep working

A large percentage of seniors actually want to work and recent job sharing programs have proven very popular with many working 2-3 days a week. A survey recently established that not only did people want to keep working in order to maintain their lifestyles, but they enjoyed keeping their minds active and the social contact that comes with employment.

Many businesses have said that they value the experience and the work ethic of the baby boomers, even more so as there are less graduates coming out of New Zealand universities and it takes a number of years before they become financially productive to their companies.

On the other hand there is now a backlash from the new generation of young job seekers claiming that the grey generation is stealing their jobs and forcing them onto unemployment benefits, or to move to better paying jobs in the mines in Australia or the fracking operations in North America.