The Disillusionment of Borders

I was going to title this post ‘The Rape from Borders’ but perhaps it might have been a little too extreme.

Having received a gift card for my birthday (hoo-rah!) for Borders, I was no doubt in a hurry to spend it – even after all the books I’ve recently bought. I went in after uni and decided I might settle for the 3-for-2 promotion to get more bang for my buck. Well, the selection was dismal and that idea was soon forgotten.

So I proceeded to browse through the stacks, and because I actually had money to spend on whatever I wanted (kind of) I looked at each shelf carefully rather than skimming. I started at ‘A’ and by the time I got to ‘C’ I was suffering neck pains and feeling quite nauseaus from constantly squatting down to the see the very bottom shelf – where all the good literature happened to be shelved. The placement is horrendous and the short shelves makes browsing annoying. Skimming is fine, but it makes it hard work for browsing.

I found a few books I would have liked to get but the prices Bordesr charge is riddiculous! Prices have obviosuly been inflated. I would rather go buy from independent bookstores at those prices.

The final disillusionment came when I looked for several books and authors – M.J. Hyland, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre – (yes, I was probably slightly too optimistic) and found that they were not stocked by Borders. I think I found one extrememly tattered copy of Sartre hidden away on one of the bottom shelves.

I was never particularly fond of Borders but now I don’t think I’ll be able to shop there again. They were pretty good for the more popular reads but with such bad placement, inflated prices and lack of stable literature (not too mention somewhat rude service) I don’t think I’ll go there again after the gift card has been used. I finally understood why some  bloggers and friends say they feel slightly ‘dirty’ shopping in Borders. It’s back to independents and Book Markets for me!

Note: the Borders I went to is located in central Melbourne so you would assume it’ll be the premiere of all Borders…


  1. I’m pretty sure the only Borders I have stepped in since moving to Australia is the one at Knox. After being thoroughly unimpressed, I usually meander around Angus&Robertson if I want the book store chain feel.

    Mostly though? I look out for the “Dirt Cheap Books” sales that happen every now and then. They have a location in Collingwood, I think, and most books are about five dollars. They’re not all great books, but you can definitely find some gems. They’re also starting to work in CDs and DVDs as well.

  2. Boo Borders! I can’t believe they don’t stock de Bouvoir or Camus! I used to go to the one in Brisbane city to find obscur magazines for my journalism assignments. But they’re a poo 😛

  3. I completely agree with you, on all points. Reader’s Feast or Readings are the way to go, but even so, neither of them are as cheap as buying online.

    I’ve never been to the Fed Square book market, but often thought about doing so. What’s it like?

  4. JM – I used to see signs for Dirt Cheap Books when I was heading to the Eastern Freeway or along Hoddle St. I never actually went in though. Should probably check it out. And I think Angus & Robertson actually owns Borders now…?

    Elena – they do have great stashes of magazines though. Incredibly expensive but understandable since they freight them in. But still…

    Jess – I LOVE Readings!! Especially their little bookmarks. I got some of the new ones with Virginia Woolf, Samuel Johnson and Oscar Wilde as cartoons. Ha! Fed Square market is very good. Some books might be at a slightly higher price than other markets like Camberwell. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re charged for having their stall there. But there’s heaps of variety and it’s very bookish. 🙂

  5. I don’t think that it was overly optimistic to expect to find those books in Borders!! If you are ever in the UK you should visit the lovely Picadilly Waterstones in London. It’s my favourite mainstream bookshop, with about 6 massive floors of books – I could spend hours (and have) in there just browsing. My book buying tendency goes – a) check second hand shop b) is it cheap on Amazon? b) checking for fabulous covers on Ebay… but if it’s new book I sometimes have to bite the bullet and pop into Borders.

  6. Novelinsights – Waterstones sounds amazing! We don’t get much of online options here in Aust. except ebay since there’s no Australian subsidiary of Amazon. There’s a few aussie based online stores but the shipping free and item cost aren’t that cheap anyway. Oh well – at least we have a great collection of little second hand stores.

  7. Borders is pretty shabby here in the States as well. The only decent selection is in picture books. I only shop there when I have a 40% off coupon or something of that magnitude.

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