Much has been said about the reasons for the demise of Borders, but Raymond Rose's article in last week's Publishers Weekly really hit the nail on the head for me. He writes,
"My sorrow isn't for the death of this company but for its employees. They're the real victims here. In my store, we had an amazing group. There was the elementary school teacher who worked every weekend and made the most magical children's recommendations; the young woman who could guide both newbies and skilled knitters alike through the needlecraft books; the tattooed graduate student who could talk your ear off about Thomas Hobbes... or Batman, your choice; and the spitfire supervisor who could hunt down the perfect mystery novel. That's just five people in my store. Imagine the number of original, talented people in the other 600-plus stores that have closed or will close later this year...
The irony is that the very thing that Borders abused--its employees--could have saved it. All Borders ever had to do was talk to its employees to find out how to be a better bookstore. Those on the front line can tell you what works (better selection!) and what doesn't (glittery pink Jesus statues!). Borders wasted time and money on so-called experts when all the experts they ever needed were already on the payroll. Not to mention their many attempts to poll its customers. Do you want to know what your customers think? Why not talk to your store employees? They speak to the customers every day."
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