Friday, August 12, 2011

Borders Vulturism, Part Three

So the going-out-of-business sale of the once-mighty Borders chain continues, in what I think is the third week. (I've been to my local three times at about once a week; that's how I'm tracking their progress.)

This time around, the sales are finally hitting beating-Amazon levels, at least in some categories, but savvy shopping is still required -- most of the store, including all front-of-store stuff, is still only 30% off. But I poked through the 40% and 50% sections, and found a few gems. (And I'm also noticing that there's a larger number of books that I'm "watching" -- I see them each week, and, if they stick around long enough and the discounts get high enough, I'll eventually buy them. But that point has not yet come.)

The business section is now 50% off -- perhaps a sign that section has not been selling well for Borders in general, which fits my Secret Publishing Knowledge -- so I spent some time there. It was bittersweet, since I saw a lot of "our" (Wiley's) books, and I'm sure the company has already written them off. But I did grab Ken Auletta's Googled, since I've liked his shorter journalism, and we more and more seem to live in the world that Google made.

The other sections I spent the most time in -- Fiction and Biography/Memoir -- are both 40% off, better than most of the store (including SF/Fantasy and Manga/Graphic Novels, the two sections I'm really waiting to hit serious discount levels), and definitely beating the competition in most cases. Perhaps egged on by a couple of reviews of his newest book, I found Nicholson Baker's first novel, The Mezzanine, which I've been meaning to read for at least a decade now. (I read his similarly minimalist novel A Box of Matches a few years back, and his nonfiction screed about library archives, Double Fold, back in 2001, before I was blogging.)

Back over in Biography/Memoir, I found Ray Davies's X-Ray: The Unauthorized Autobiography, an odd memoir (written as if by a hostile biographer) from the Kinks frontman that I've also been vaguely thinking about reading for a decade.

On the more recent side, I also grabbed Peter Hedges's The Heights, which was the obligatory well-written witty cautionary tale of boring married people's foibles and pitfalls from last summer; I must have picked it up at the library a dozen times last year without ever reading it. So now there's a copy in my own house I can read, or not.

And last was another big novel from last year, Jess Walter's The Financial Lives of the Poets, which is supposed to be funny, touching, and wonderful and which I sincerely hope lives up to the hype. And I have to admit the financial aspect actually makes it more interesting to me; my day job has crept into the darkest recesses of my skull by now, and there will be no getting it out, ever. (And I did get the blue cover, as seen here -- it comes in three flavors, a sign that some other book marketer has a much happier life of getting stores to carry multiple copies of his books than I do.)

That's what I found at Borders this week; in another five or seven or eight days they'll have another round of price cuts and I'll be back again. With any luck, I'll have read some of these books by then.

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