The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

Borders: opening Thursday

by Alan on March 11, 2007 in Retail

As Tom noted back in October, the northern portion of Capital on the Quay is to become a Borders. Imagine a bookstore with a giant footprint, a cafe inside, and possibly the largest range of stock in town. That might well be what we’re getting.

Borders windowSeveral months later it seems the the work is just about complete, and earlier this week a sign appeared in the window: opening is to be 8:00am this Thursday 15th.

At the Wellingtonista we’ve been keenly awaiting the opening: probably more because we are hoping for some great opening bargains than anything else (not that we actually know anything – please comment if you do).

Around the watercooler though, there’s been a bit of discussion about Borders entry into the Wellington book retail market: will it be good, or bad for the book-loving public?

Experience of the Auckland store varied: one of us felt that although the initial stock on opening was broad enough to have people hyperventilating (three different editions of “Finnegan’s Wake” – a benchmark by which any book-store, -chain, or even society can be measured he said, misty-eyed with remembrance), over time it seemed to become less diverse.

But a couple of the others have found the Auckland store to be pretty good actually, beating out even Unity in some areas (post-modern American poetry, anyone?), and that the range available is huge.

At this point, the concept of The Long Tail made its way into the increasingly thick soup of the conversation. The idea applied in this case being that Borders’ can generate volume and make money by selling one or two copies of many many different titles rather than flogging large numbers of just a few very popular titles. Which may bode ill for for our favourite small-but-more-specialised bookshops elsewhere in town: Unity, Vic Books, Parsons, and even Dymocks all have their adherents up here in Wellingtonista towers. It’s hard to say how it’s going to pan out: maybe Borders won’t, or can’t compete against the independents, crimping the Quay’s other book megastore pretender Whitcoulls instead… or maybe not.

We guess we’ll start to know on Thursday morning.

Alan Macdougall

Hadyn March 21, 2007 at 9:01 am

I took my first look yesterday and while the may not have three copies of Finnegan’s Wake, they did have three copies of From Hell (the Alan Moore comic about Jack the Ripper). I tried to get this while in London and was told it was “out of print”. Well done Borders.

llew March 20, 2007 at 11:13 am

“but the world & documentary sections have an impressive selection”

I’d agree with that – maybe a bit heavy on Hong Kong actioners old & new, but that seems to be the way of things at the moment (those films were pretty much unavailable in NZ until the 90s, now we seem to be overcompensating).

stephen clover March 15, 2007 at 12:21 pm

I’m touched (hur hur “touched”) that my wistfully nostalgic romanticising re. Finnegan’s Wake has so readily and easily entered the vernacular.

Ulysses doesn’t really cut it as a touchstone, especially since the arrival of the “corrected” edition a few years back. Personally I would be more interested in the proliferation of Céline paperbacks.

Justine March 15, 2007 at 11:04 am

The Borders in Chch is extremely comprehensive and has loads of selection (and the added bonus of being open until 10pm every night), so I’m holding out hope that they just haven’t received all their stock in Wgtn yet.
Never expected them to be cut price: that’s not really what they’re about. However, as to discounts etc, the one in Chch also used to have a permanent stand at the door with the odd discount coupons available (20% off fiction for example) but not on their opening day, as far as I can recall. Also used to do mail-outs of aforementioned discount coupons. Just give them time, people!

Hadyn March 15, 2007 at 4:15 pm

re: Science & Math
or sneak in and add the whole “ematics”

Michael March 15, 2007 at 8:49 pm

As well, did anybody else notice the wonky map they have on their brochures by the door? They show the shop on the wrong side of the street, and a way down the road to boot. It really doesn’t bode well.

Michael March 15, 2007 at 7:12 pm

I do think they haven’t got all their stock in yet; there was a lot of empty space and quite a few places with obvious filler like an entire shelf of the same book. So there’s potential there, they’ve certainly got the space for it. “Filling things out to look impressive” is a pretty cynical way to put it, however accurate it might be.

The bulk of the DVD and music section really hasn’t got anything going for it, but the world & documentary sections have an impressive selection, if sometimes a little eclectic.

All in all, they seem to have opened a couple of weeks early, so I’ll reserve judgment until then. Hopefully they get some more stock in and tidy up their filing system.

Tom March 15, 2007 at 1:18 pm

There’s a good selection of Rimbaud, including a few that I haven’t seen before. The architecture section is pretty good, and it seems to have about 50% more books than Dymocks’ equivalent, though it’s difficult to tell with their spaced-out shelves and multiple copies. I noticed that there were several books I haven’t seen elsewhere in Wellington (“S, M, L, XL”! I haven’t seen that around in ages, and I’m considering coughing up the $165), so they’ve broadened the range of books available in the city. That, to my mind, is a Good Thing.

Bad things:

– Overall, the shelves are very sparsely stocked. I hope that’s just a temporary thing, as some have suggested, but it gives the impression at the moment that they’re just padding things out to look impressive.

– Gloria f*ck!ng Jeans!

– The magazine selection isn’t going to have Magnetix worried.

– Books on Te Reo were stocked under the “Foreign Language” section.

– A big chunk of the upstairs stock could pretty much be shelved under “self help”.

– There’s a reasonable selection of scientific books, even going beyond pop science very slightly, but it’s no Blackwells. And the section is headed “Science & Math”, which grates so much I want to sneak in with a pen and add the missing “s”.

Nikki March 15, 2007 at 1:54 pm

It is the kind of place you need some time to trawl through..

Tom March 15, 2007 at 9:45 pm

Perhaps “filling things out to look impressive” was a bit harsh, but they’re definitely spreading the books across the shelves, and I hope that’s because they’ll fill up soon with actual books, not because they want to pretend they’ve more choice than than they actually do.

Hadyn March 16, 2007 at 8:47 am

Don’t hold your breath Tom and Michael. What you said reminded me of the Auckland Borders with shelves full of da Vinci Codes.

Alan March 15, 2007 at 1:33 pm

And… having been in there again just now… I’ve bought something (the aforementioned Orwell), and am finding things I’d not seen before (e.g., and not that I’ve thought of reading it up until just now, all of Proust’s In search of lost time).

So yeah, maybe I was a bit harsh. There is room for a lot more stock though.

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