Borders vs Barnes & Noble

As a connoisseur of books of several categories, I make it a point to visit and enjoy the experience of a 'bricks and mortar' bookstore. While Amazon rules the online bookstores with all its selections, lowest of prices and tools to enhance the customer experience on its website, it cannot replace the experience of walking down aisles of printed media or savoring designer coffee. Therefore, I decided to compare my experiences at two of the best 'physical bookstores', Borders and Barnes and Noble

1. Choice:  Its 'size' factor gives B&N an advantage here. Several of the B&N stores like the one in Burlington are simply much bigger than the Borders stores and can offer a wider selection.  At borders, you are more likely miss out on the certain selection or on a particular book, DVD or movie you want to buy.

2. Organization:  Here the edge goes to Borders. Most Barnes and Noble offer many books and oceans of books and books ooze out from every corner of these stores. This can often overwhelm the shopper and can cause migraines. Borders stores on the other hand have more open spaces which are easier on the psyche. The Borders in Braintree, for instance has moved a lot of its overstock outside the store and has avoided the clutter factor inside. Some of its best bargains are on the sidewalk outside.

3. The Coffee: This is a personal choice. Some prefer the Starbucks at the Barnes and Noble while others prefer 'Seattle's Best' offered at Borders. I do not have strong preferences to either. 

4. Locations: Clearly B&N has more but Borders has done a good job placing its stores at strategic locations. My favorite is the one in Braintree(despite all the bad press due to a few recent incidents) I liked the one on Boylston street too.

5. Price and Deals: 
If you are looking only at prices, the best deals are on Amazon. Having said that,
  •  Membership at B&N gets you 10% off you bill while a Borders membership gets you a mere $5 gift certificate for every $100 spent on the store.
  • On specific bestsellers, Borders (at the time of this writing offers a buy one-get half off the second deal. 
  • Both offer 40% off deals for members on recent bestsellers.

6. Salespeople and other perks: 
  • Here again, B&N has more salespeople to direct patrons to books or departments. 
  • I have loved bookstores more since the time they allow customers to sample their offerings. Both chains do a great job of letting customers relax on recliners and read a page or two of a book, before deciding to buy. 
  • Both stores also have special events like featured author visits, book discussions or music performances.
  • Most savvy shoppers sample books in these stores and end up buying books online. This works a little more to the advantage of B&N, which has a bigger online presence. Its 10% off deals can also be used online.

7. Lighting: Most Barnes and Noble stores are a bit too bright. Personally, I like the bright light in bookstores though some other people prefer the cozy lighting at Borders.

Maybe it is the wide- space factor (or some other intangible I cannot describe) I prefer the' Borders' experience a little better.

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