Sunday 27 February 2011

Forget Borders, I’ll open my own chain of bookstores

About two weeks ago, Borders Singapore’s Australian parent company, REDgroup Retail, was put into voluntary administration – meaning it is working with an independent body to help pay its creditors.

This led to some hand-wringing over the possibility that Borders might soon not exist within our borders anymore. Is this why Borders is having a massive clearance sale at the Expo this weekend?

The US-based Borders Group has already filed for bankruptcy protection.

I understand the concern. I mean I’m still heartbroken over MPH moving out of Stamford Road back in 2003.

But local book lovers will be relieved to know that according to a statement on its website at last week, Borders Singapore is “not currently affected” by its parent company’s troubles.

In any case, I’m glad I didn’t sign up for the Borders Preferred Card.

Not wanting my emotions toyed with by another bookstore, I’ve come up with my own exciting new concept for a bookstore that’s similar to the Borders Singapore flagship store at Wheelock Place – but bigger, better and cooler.

Like Borders, my bookstore will have a huge selection of books as well as DVDs and CDs (even though as a format, the CD is in its death throes).

Unlike Borders, my bookstore will have not only a wide range of magazines and newspapers, but also past issues of these periodicals. How cool is that?

Like Borders, my bookstore will have a section dedicated to young readers where parents can dump their children and then go elsewhere to shop.

Unlike Borders, my bookstore will have publications not only in English, but also in Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Singapore is a multi-lingual society after all.

My bookstore will also provide more plentiful seating than Borders so that customers can sit and browse the merchandise at their leisure before buying.

And if you’re lulled to sleep by the oh-so-comfy furniture, none of my staff will wake you or charge you hourly room rates.

But come closing time, my staff will politely but firmly ask you to hit the road, Jack. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

Of course, my bookstore will also have an overpriced cafe like the one in Borders. It wouldn’t be a bookstore without one.

Borders has only two stores in Singapore, the main one at Orchard Road and a branch in Parkway Parade.

I plan to open my bookstores in shopping malls and dedicated buildings all over the island: Jurong, Tampines, Woodlands, Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bishan, Boon Lay, Bukit Batok, Bukit Merah, Bukit Panjang, Hougang, Choa Chu Kang, Geylang, Marine Parade, Pasir Ris, Queenstown, Sembawang, Sengkang, Toa Payoh, Yishun, Victoria Street and maybe even the Esplanade.

It will be the McDonald’s of bookstores!

I will crush my competitors. How? By undercutting them. By how much?

This is where the most revolutionary part of my concept comes in – the books will be free!

How crazy is that?

Customers just have to return the books after reading them. I think a few weeks should be enough time to finish a book.

The name of my bookstore? I’m calling it “the library”.

I hope it will catch on. Borders, beware.

- Published in The New Paper, 27 February 2011

UPDATE: Last Borders bookstore in Singapore to close