January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

by Alan Beatts

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope that 2007 has been treating you all very well thus far.

First off, I want to thank you, our customers, as well as the authors and publishers who have supported us through 2006.  It was a good year for Borderlands (despite all the cafe delays).  Probably the best proof of that is the following -

According to Shelf Awareness (Friday, Jan. 5th), a bookselling industry newsletter --

"Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million Have a Flat Holiday"

"Sales during the holiday period at both Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million were below expectations.

At B&N, sales during the nine weeks between October 29 and December 30 were $1.1 billion, up 2.6%, but sales at stores open at least a year were down 0.1%, lower than the company's prediction of a "flat to low single digit increase." By contrast, sales at B&N.com during the same period were up 2.7% to $108.5 million.

In a statement, CEO Steve Riggio called the results "somewhat disappointing" and cited "a highly promotional and competitive environment."

Yesterday Sun Trust Robinson Humphrey downgraded B&N to "neutral" from "buy."

By way of comparison, at Borderlands our sales for December were up by more than twice B&N's 2.6% figure and we've been open for a hell of a lot longer than one year.

I don't believe in conducting my business (or personal life for that matter) on the cut-throat, dance-on-the-graves-of-my-competitors model.  But, B&N has engaged in a number of trade practices over the years that I (and in two cases, the Federal Trade Commission) think are a little sleazy and even borderline illegal.  So, I have to admit that their Christmas woes give me a bit of a smile.

Far more importantly though, the idea of Borderlands has been based from the beginning on the belief that there are enough people who want what we have to offer -- our selection, our careful and thoughtful service, and our friendly, community-oriented environment -- that we will be able to stay in business.  The fact that we're still in business seems to prove that we were right; those figures are added proof that it's working.  Here's to it continuing to work into 2007 and beyond.

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