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Author Says Borders Books Failure Teaches An Important Business Lesson
A New York Times best-selling author explains why he's happy to see Borders Books go under, which he attributes to their bad attitude toward authors.
Rumbauskas loves bookstores, as authors naturally do, but in the case of Borders, he says he doesn't feel so bad.
As he explains, "See, I'm a big fan of The Golden Rule, especially as propounded by Napoleon Hill in his many books. He pointed out that following The Golden Rule would eliminate strife and dishonesty in business, banish war from the face of the earth, and many other great things.
"Having said all that, Hill's most practical application of The Golden Rule is in business. Businesses that follow The Golden Rule and treat everyone, from suppliers to employees, as they'd like to be treated, will succeed and prosper. Those that don't will fail sooner or later."
In the case of Borders Books, Rumbauskas says he always liked their stores, until he became a published author, that is. Authors like to do what are called drop-by signings whenever possible. That's when they literally 'drop in' at a bookstore and autograph all the copies of their books that are in stock. Stores love this because they put those books out on the front table and they sell very quickly.
Rumbauskas says that if he's going to be traveling, he'll have an assistant phone all of the bookstores in that particular area ahead of time so they can order a large quantity of his books for me to sign. Again, the stores love this because signed copies of books fly off the shelves.
"Barnes & Noble has always been very accommodating with this. They understand that by signing books, I'm helping them make money, and they roll out the red carpet for authors. They're usually very happy to order extra copies of my books for me to sign, and even when I show up unannounced, they're still very gracious and happy to have me sign whatever is in stock," he says.
But according to Frank, his was never the case with Borders Books. He says Borders managers and employees always seemed to be bothered and inconvenienced by this, whether he showed up unannounced, or called ahead to let them know he was coming coming.
"In most cases the Borders stores would flat-out say "no," or in rare cases, they accommodated me but did it very begrudgingly and as if they were doing me a favor. In reality the situation was just the opposite because, contrary to popular belief, a retailer makes quite a lot more dollars per book than I do.
"And so I'm not surprised to see Borders going away. Nor will I miss them."
Rumbauskas explains that a bookstore that treats authors poorly really has no clue who is making their money for them. He thinks it's even worse than treating customers badly.
Rumbauskas concludes, "I feel for the employees of Borders who will now be out of work in an already difficult economy. But the blame lies with the management for promoting a culture that is not friendly toward authors, the very people who make the business of selling books possible in the first place."
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