Saturday, October 01, 2011

Borders closes in Singapore

Bookstore chain Borders closed its Parkway Parade branch, the last remaining outlet in Singapore, at 9pm on Monday, 26th September, according to The Straits Times.

“Borders put their goods on sale over the weekend in order to clear stock, and prices were slashed further on the last day of its operations, with items going for $1 a piece in the final hour.

“Books were not the only items for sale to the hundreds of shoppers who visited the store. Shelves, signs and computers at the cashiers' counters were also available for sale,” said the newspaper.

The Orchard Road store at Wheelock Place closed on the 16th of August. The final nail for the Parkway Parade outlet was driven on 21st September when the US company terminated the right of Borders Singapore to use the brand name and gave it 90 days to cease all activities.

All this brings us back to Malaysia. While the bookstores themselves are not in the same danger of closing, there appears to be no reason why the US company will allow them to continue using the brand name. Maybe the letter has already been sent out. Let’s hold our breath and watch!

The Straits Times

What kind of bookshop do you like?

Says Larry McMurtry in Business Week, “Neatness doesn’t count: Customers prefer stacks on the floor to books on the shelf.” Really? This has made me think of what I’d like in a bookshop.

Piles of books on the floor? No, I’m really not sure. You see, for one thing I would worry about tripping over and getting killed or, worse still, breaking something or, even worse, step on one of the books. (I still have that hang up from childhood, I’m afraid.) Books arranged neatly on the shelf vertically, give me a crick in the neck that can last for days. I prefer them stacked horizontally, which makes it easier to read the spine.

Categorisation and classification helps because I really don’t like to spend hours looking for what I want. So I hate big bookshops: those megastores bore the life out of me, and legs start to hurt. Medium to small is what I like best, say, with 3000 to 5000 titles, several of them, neatly arranged and displayed like the deserts at a deli that you promise yourself even before you order your main meal.

McMurtry says, “Some people don’t like too much order in bookshops and want to feel like they’re finding something. You can have 300,000 books perfectly arranged on the shelf, and every time, people will walk in and want to look at the books stacked up on the floor. So if you really want to sell something, jumble it up and pitch it on the floor.”

I suppose some people do like to pick things off the floor. But for me, the very thought of going through 300,000 books tires me out. I’d prefer to zoom in to the section they have my favourites and skip the rest. I love to browse. Few things give me a high better than book discovery, but I prefer my books to be arranged, though not all in a straight line like policemen on parade. Some creativity would be nice.

The comments are mixed. Some people do like to pick books right out of the boxes, but I prefer some order.

Business Week

How to furnish a room without books

When you walk into a person’s house for the first time and see a plasma TV, you know what the conversation is not going to be about: Milan Kundera’s latest book of essays. When you see a bookshelf in a corner or a stack of books under the glass of the coffee table, you would sneak a peek at the spines before picking a topic, or not. A room full of books, a proper library would establish the class by itself.

But in the age of e-books, you could be in a pickle. A new Harris Interactive survey finds, first, 15% of Americans now use an e-reading device, up from 8% one year ago, and one in six other Americans plan to buy one in the next six months. Second, those with e-readers read more books. Third, those with e-readers buy more books.

All this is bad news for the furnishing industry -- Ikea’s entire range of bookshelves will become redundant -- and we will all need to learn new social skills – when you have a full library all you need to do is to keep the door slightly ajar so your guest can peek into it on the way to the kitchen, or bathroom, or wherever, to take up class positions. “Most of them are my husband’s – he’s such a reader, you know – but many of them, I confess, are mine. I tell him they’re his; he’s got so many he wouldn’t know. Ha ha. But I do love the classics.”

What, if anything,  can you do with a Kindle? How does one brag?

“Denuded of books, all that wall space presents a fresh canvas on which to express yourself,” says Harry de Quetteville in The Telegraph. Wallpapers are making a return. What would one put in the toilet for guests to read? What would one do with the room one uses as a study, the library? Put in a pool table perhaps. If you have the money, why not make it an art gallery? But the most difficult part, I think, will be giving the home the lived-in look. Books can be strewn about on any horizontal surface, even the stairs. What can we toss around to give our home that classy-cluttered look?

The Telegraph