Virtual Hired Hand - The Fall of Borders Reveals Lessons for Onlin Business Owners

What’s the name of the last book you bought; where did you get it?

Did you reach out to Borders, Barnes & Noble, go online to their websites or did you go straight to Amazon?

An unscientific poll of my Facebook friends showed that most people preferred Amazon first, then Barnes & Noble. For the few that went to Borders, they made it clear that location was the main reason, otherwise, they’d got to Barnes & Noble if they actually went into a store.

A couple people informed me that Borders was closing, which I found to be funny. Yes, they’re closing, but they’re not closed yet. Borders stores are significantly discounting their books, but it doesn’t make me want to rush out to the store even though they’re right up the street from my house.

Why are we choosing instead to order from Barnes & Noble and Amazon when Borders is practically begging us to come in and buy something?

Some articles say Borders is more expensive. The last eBook I purchased was “Heaven is for Real”. I ordered it from Amazon for $5 without blinking or considering other store options.

Here’s a quick comparison of this book in an eBook and Book format as of the date of this article:

Borders: eReader Book $5.00, book $11.89

Barnes & Noble: Nook Book $8.99, book $9.43

Amazon: Kindle Book $5.00, Book $9.34

Borders and Amazon have the same price for the eBook. Why are we choosing Amazon over Borders for our eBooks?

On my iPad, I have apps for the Kindle, Nook and iBook, I didn’t know Borders had an eReader until I started looking up information about their bankruptcy.

Did you know Borders has an eBook? It’s called a “Kobo.” Unlike Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Borders does not own the KoBo, instead they invested into it. This means while Borders is shutting down, Kobo lives on.

This is one of the mistakes Borders made and one we can all learn from when it comes to our websites.

There are lots of platforms you can choose from for your blog: Blogger, Tumblr, TypePad,, and However, the only one that allows you to truly own the look, feel, and content of your website is Matt Mullenweg, the creator of both WordPresses considers like renting a home and like buying a home.

You can invest time energy and funds into something else, however if you don’t own 100% of your website, things can get ugly really fast. Websites have been shutdown due to “inappropriate” content. Some platforms charge a fee to forward their web address to your own personal web address. Yes, that’s right you don’t own the web address if it’s You’re just a subdomain of their domain.

Confusing, I know, but what’s important is not sharing your address with someone else. Can you blame them? They own it, and besides if you started with them and time has gone by, you’ve got a lot at stake when it comes to your website. That’s what their hoping for and know they can charge you to have it redirected if you want it bad enough.

Think about this, whether you’re able to generate an income from your website or not, if they decide it’s inappropriate and shut it down, their website keeps ticking as usual, just like Kobo with Borders. Kobo has made it clear, their product will continue working inspite of the closing of Borders.

If your ideal clients want content in various forms, give them what they want. If you don’t know, ask them. If they’d enjoy a teleclass, blog post with images, or a vlog that makes them feel as though you’re right in their living room, do so. While it was being announced that eBooks were outpacing regular Books, Borders failed to adapt to change.

You’d think Borders would have learned a lesson from their partnership with Amazon. Yes, that’s right, Borders, once had a JV like partnership with Amazon. Any products sold that were referred from the Borders site, Borders receive a commission based on the sell.

Were you one of Borders customers that clicked to purchase a book only to end up at Amazon?

Clearly Borders didn’t realize they were teaching us to browse their website, but shop at Amazon. This partnership ended in 2008, which is another shocker. Borders should have been more aware of the online business world than I was when I started in 2008.

Choose your partners wisely. You don’t want to join forces with a company that’s looking to take you out or who poses a threat to your livelihood.

Borders did not start selling their products on their own website until 2008 and they didn’t introduce an eReader until 2010. By this time, we had already been trained and conditioned by Amazon and Barnes & Noble. We came to love the look and feel of those websites and found Borders a bit uncomfortable so we didn’t stay long on the website or in the store for that matter.

Take away: Make your customers feel at home when they come to visit. If your place is full of clutter, overcrowded, or confusing to navigate, they’ll get frustrated and leave.

The whole thing makes me sad because it didn’t have to be this way. When I took the pictue at the top of this post, I felt like a sleazy photographer for the tabloids. It felt like I was taking a picture of a celebrity at their most vulnerable state.

Once this store officially closes its doors, we’ll have a huge eyesoar at the center of our mall while employees look for work and mall owners hope for new tenants. All the while the Internet will continue to flourish and not miss a beat.

The story of Borders provides major lessons for all of us online business owners as well as those looking to get started. By being a part of the insulated bubble of the Internet, we can quickly adjust to the changes, grasp new technologies, and conduct numerous tests to see what works and what doesn’t for our ideal clients. The Internet allows us to easily pull back our failures while continuing to aim for success.

You don’t want to be the next Borders, riding the wave of your competitors in hopes for the crumbs that fall as a result of the sells you send them.

-Be wise-

-Be diligent-

-Be action focused-

If you were in a crowd and everyone started running, would you ask why everyone is running or run and ask questions later? Borders waited until the crowd was gone, then got a clue to start selling online and invest in an eReader.

When it comes to your online business:

Take action, start it, ask questions when you get there.

Now it’s your turn, share your thoughts on the closing of Borders. Does it change they way you see your online business?