On his “Publishing 2020” blog, Joe Wikert, general manager of O’Reilly Media’s Technology Exchange Division, mused recently about the long-term viability of the closely watched deal between Borders and HarperStudio, whereby the bookstore chain will purchase HarperStudio titles at a 10-percent to 15-percent discount in exchange for accepting a no-returns agreement. As a result, Wikert wrote, Borders will probably be less aggressive with initial buys and could find itself out of stock in the face of a hit—not a good situation for either party. On the other hand, having to sell all of the books it purchases most likely means Borders will more aggressively market HarperStudio titles—just the sort of incentive lacking in the current system.
The biggest news in book retailing so far this year may be Borders’ opening its first “concept store,” a new generation of superstores unveiled in February in the company’s hometown of Ann Arbor, Mich. At 28,900 square feet, the new store—the first of 14 planned to open this year—does not skimp on size, and a lot of that space is taken up by innovative features: shop-within-a-shop “destination zones” for travel, cooking, wellness, graphic novels and children’s categories; bold, new architectural designs; and a “digital center” offering services ranging from book downloading to self-publishing. “Our mission is to be a headquarters for knowledge