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What sale? Borders jacks up prices

A comparison of going-out-of-business prices at the bookseller with its prices the week before will shock you.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 27, 2011 4:48PM

This guest post comes from Lindsay Sakraida of dealnews.

 

Last week, we adamantly advised against shopping the Borders liquidation sales, and this week we have proof that the store-closing discounts are woefully underwhelming.

 

Before liquidation began, we visited the Borders store in the Time Warner Center in New York and noted the price of several books and select movies. Then, we returned on Saturday to note the post-"everything must go" prices -- and discovered that 19 out of 25 items were cheaper last week, while five were merely consistent. And, not surprisingly, almost none were actually price lows once we compared online.

 

Below, we've listed a selection of those items, as well as links to where you can find them at the best price available. (Note that the comparison prices below assume free shipping via Amazon Prime or free Walmart Site-to-Store shipping, as applicable.)

 

First Week Price*

Second Week Price

Lowest Price Available

The Girl Who Kicked
The Hornet's Nest

$19.57

$25.16

$11.87 at Walmart
$11.88 at Amazon

The Hunger Games

$6.29

$8.09

$4.93 at Walmart
$4.94 at Amazon

Bossypants

$18.89

$18.89

$15.96 at Amazon

The Help

$11.20

$14.40

$8.57 at Amazon
$8.70 at Walmart

Water for Elephants

$10.47

$13.46

$7.77 at Walmart
$8.15 at Amazon

A Visit From
The Goon Squad

$10.47

$13.46

$7.45 at Walmart
$7.45 at Amazon

A Dance With Dragons

$24.50

$24.50

$17.50 at Buy.com

When You Are
Engulfed in Flames

$11.19

$14.39

$9.99 at Amazon
$10.50 at Walmart

Too Big To Fail

$12.60

$16.20

$10.55 at Walmart
$12.24 at Amazon

Unbroken

$18.90

$18.90

$13.48 at Walmart
$13.49 at Amazon

 

Don't buy into the sale

The Borders store-closing discounts are even worse than we originally imagined; the February liquidation sales took 20% to 40% off, but on Saturday, most popular titles only received a meager 10% off -- which is laughably low when you consider that Borders offered a 30%-off coupon that applied to the list price of those same items just last week.

 

However, select titles that featured "stickered" discounts last week maintained that price for the store-closing sale. (Taking all those stickers off is probably really tedious.) Post continues after video, which initially aired last week.

But this is all moot, because even when comparing the first week prices with the lowest price available online today, every book was still cheaper elsewhere.

 

However, there was one lone item that improved in the second week: "Easy A" on Blu-ray disc. That's because all Blu-ray items received 40% off during liquidation. Upon seeing this, we noted additional Blu-ray titles on Saturday and price checked them this morning; three out of five were price lows at the Borders sale. So, if you're willing to take a chance, this is perhaps the only category where you'll score a deal.

 

But even though a low is a low, it should be noted that we listed a Borders coupon for 50% off Blu-ray disc movies last month -- once again undercutting the strength of this "one-time opportunity to find exceptional discounts" on bookstore goods.

Shop online instead

An interesting bit of secondary information that comes from this research: Nearly every book is available at the lowest price either at Amazon (if you have Amazon Prime or can pad your order over $25) or at Wal-Mart (with free Site-to-Store shipping). So instead of shopping the Borders store-closing sales, we recommend staying put and ordering online.

 

More on dealnews and MSN Money:

117Comments
Jul 27, 2011 11:25PM
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For God's Sake!  11,000 people are going to be without jobs.  Many of them went through the first series of closures in February.  Let me tell you how that rips your soul.  Those who loved their job, read books, had a personality and passion that they shared with their customers and had to turn about face and simply be cashiers to the masses that too many had never stepped foot in their store.

Countless calls and questions regarding when will the next percentage off start? How much longer are you going to be open?  Bartering over a chair you sat in during your lunch break.  Complaining that they can find it cheaper at Wal-Mart, even at 60% off.  No they couldn't!  I could tell such horror stories as my fellow employees stood in the midst of others greed.  Hell they wanted to still have a job and keep their work family.

I am going through this once again!  I transferred to one of the only stores within 25 miles of home.  I will stay till the end to stand beside good people, employees and customers alike that wonder what's next.  Be honest, B&N is 6 months away at most from closing stores.  200 were planned to close in Spring 2011, along with Borders. Then what?

Think about this.  No book stores for your kids.  The excitement of picking out their first Dr. Seuss book just isn't the same in front of a monitor.  How about asking that Wal-Mart employee what's a good book regarding dealing with elderly parents and health care or which author wrote that book about the Gothic chick that helps some dude solve murders. Call Amazon customer service and ask if Hunger Games is suitable for a 8 year old or help you with your list of 15 books for your school's reading program.  Not a pretty picture my friends.

So if you shop Borders liquidation sale, remember that salesperson is still trying to be helpful and courteous while watching their demise.  Remember they don't work for Borders anymore, they have no control of whatsoever.  They even lost their employee diiscount and if they can buy books, they are paying the same price as you and are not allowed to put any book aside for themselves.  Know that the best way to express what is going on for them and many wonderful Borders customers is simply put into 2 words...this sucks!. 

Jul 28, 2011 1:15AM
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How was this allowed to be written without one mention of the liquidators being in charge of pricing? That wasn't considered relevant information, MSN Money partner? I guess it makes for a juicer story to paint it as evil Borders trying to screw customers.

 

Borders has nothing to do with anything anymore. Not prices, not the discounts, nothing.

Jul 27, 2011 8:50PM
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i need to stop reading the comments that people leave on these "informative articles." they make my blood boil and my head spin in circles. i think i actually felt myself growing fangs at one point... i'm out for blood. i don't think that people understand that a publisher sets a price on the book and that a retail location cannot sell that book for more than it's set price. anything less than that price is a discount and stores have the right to change their discounts at will. especially since borders isn't its own company anymore, but now belongs to hilco, it isn't borders that is "raising" prices. saying "no wonder the company is going out of business" after the fact is jibberish. sure, b&n gave 10% off the whole store... IF you bought into their rewards program for $20. so, yeah, they were cheaper if you didn't do the fast math to understand that you had to spend $200 to see that $20 back, $201 to see any real savings. amazon buys in mass quantities and ships from warehouses and doesn't need to pay sales tax to any state government or pay specialized workers to sell the books to you, so of course they can charge you less. borders never changed the MSRP on any book to be higher than what was printed on the book jacket, but hilco sure did fool you into thinking that you were going to get the deal of the century. shame on you, consumer, for not paying more attention to the capitalism that surrounds you.
Jul 28, 2011 7:57AM
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Those of you who only care about the cheapest price probably weren't shopping at Borders anyway, so I (sort of) understand your feelings. However, I loved Borders and will miss them terribly. They had great coupons, and if you paid $20 per year for their upgraded membership, you got that money back thrice over (at least). Also, I loved being able to go in and browse the stacks. I found a lot of books that I enjoyed and might not have read otherwise that way.

 

If you don't see the value in a brick-and-mortar store and don't have the time or inclination to use the coupons, that's fine, but then don't complain when the economy sinks even lower and unemployment rises.

Jul 27, 2011 8:42PM
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You guys have no clue what happens when a company goes bankrupt and liquidating company takes over. Borders is not Borders anymore it is under Hilco now. They can set whatever price they want, you don't like it well take it up with the liquidator company, cause they don't care.  You should instead be sorry for the 11,000 people that will be without jobs soon. Employees already having a hard time already and don't need to be harrassed by lowering prices when they can't. Believe me, they would if they could. They have NO Control anymore, once the systems go over toward Liquidators, thats it. Borders is long gone now in the dust. It will be only a memory of what happens to companies that don't prosper.
Jul 28, 2011 3:15AM
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I've read through some of the comments posted. It amazes me how little some people know about business. So, in a nutshell:

 

1. Borders is NOT involved in setting current prices and discounts as they no longer "own" the inventory. A commercial firm of liquidators is in charge. After the liquidators take their percentage...the rest of the money goes in to the bankruptcy to pay attorney fees , any outstanding  payroll and a small percentage may go to pay any outstanding debts.

 

2. It is standard practice when any company declares bankruptcy, liquidators handling the sale ONLY give discounts off MSRP. The MSRP is determined by the publisher or manufacturer...not the middleman. It was the same with Circuit City.

 

3. All liquidation sales start with the least percentage off so they can make the most money. Again, the inventory is in the hands of the liquidator. Going early during the liquidation won't get you any real deals. Liquidators rely on consumers to not know the basics of these type of sales. and consumers prove them right every time.

 

So, let's quit blaming Borders for these prices and discounts. They believe they will close their doors completely within 4-6 weeks. The discounts won't be worth it until right before they completely close their doors.

Jul 27, 2011 11:12PM
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Some of yall are comparing this to the Circuit City liquidation.  There's a good reason they seem similar: the same company, Gordon Brothers, is running both.  Not Circuit City, not Borders - they both sold their inventory to these guys.  It's funny how they aren't mentioned once in this article, but Borders itself is blamed instead.  Borders has nothing to do with these sales, other than providing the physical locations and the employees (which both make more sense for logistics reasons).

Moreover, this is standard practice for liquidation sales.  They virtually always mark the prices up to MSRP (in this case, cover price), then discount from there.  The rare exception seems to be their bargain books, which will be even more of a steal than normal.  The 10 to 40 percent really means 10 percent on anything you want, and higher discounts on stuff they think they can't sell.  Romance titles, if you're into that, are also at 40 percent off. 

But to reiterate - this isn't Borders fault, and people should stop blaming them for the crappy prices.  Then again, it's the poor reporting above that sets the stage, so shame on you too MSN.

Jul 27, 2011 10:04PM
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 why does everybody want to make $50 an hour,but want the other person to make $5 an hour so they can buy the other person product cheap. That's why store are closing and jobs are going to to India and China
Jul 28, 2011 1:17AM
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I know exactly what these employee's are going through. I worked for Hollywood Video (Movie Gallery, Game Crazy all same company) and we were blind sided  by the closures. A liquidation company came in and we too lost all or discounts and couldn't even put a movie aside until that night when we got off shift to pay for it because the losers considered that stealing. They told us we would get bonuses for staying the whole time so I did and I got a grand total of 21.00 for putting up with that crap! If you're an employee of Borders, LEAVE AS SOON AS YOU GET A DIFFERENT JOB. They are screwing you over so if you all just walk out then they wont have anyone to run the store during liquidation and will have to just box it up and send it off to the next store. If enough people do this to them, they will be screwed in the end.
Jul 28, 2011 8:23AM
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It is really amazing how few people posting comments actually understand what happens with a liquidation.  Prices always get reset to MSRP - so the previous week's sale items may now have a sale price that isn't as good as last week's prices.  The Liquidators set the prices, so you can't attach any of this to "this is why they're going out of business." 

The real kicker for people who think that way, is that the stock isn't just sitting there, and the liquidators haven't gone brain dead in business sense.  Most Borders stores last week did 4-5 times more business in sales last weekend they did on a typical busy Christmas weekend.

Another poster mentioned air conditioning at a store, and it was obvious things weren't being attended to any more.  This is another example of drawing conclusions without any accurate information.  The store in question didn't have working a/c because Borders couldn't afford costly repairs on items like that in dozens of stores as time wound on in the potential sale to another company.  They were trying to stay alive as long as possible, so spending $20,000 on a/c repairs was out of the question.  If you go to the Timonium store now, however, you will find the a/c working perfectly now.  Why?  The liquidators actually spent the money to get it repaired.  So it is because the store is going out of business that it was fixed.  If Borders still ran things, it couldn't have afforded the repairs.

The name Borders exists now, but the liquidators own everything, and are making the decisions on prices, etc.  The Borders employees are now employed by the liquidator.  So you can't equate anything going on now with what Borders was doing last month. 

Jul 27, 2011 9:01PM
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What "Someone" said, x2--comparing those two sets of prices is meaningless, at least as an attempt to bash Borders one more time before all the marrow is sucked from its bones.

As of Friday 7/22, Borders ceased to exist. All its inventory is the property of the liquidator, as is the fate of its thousands of employees who suffered through every change of ownership, every crazy change of direction, every new ill-conceived initiative to "turn it all around." The liquidator sets all prices, period. Yes, most of the big name books were cheaper a week earlier, that's because BORDERS SET THE PRICES. They are no longer doing so.

I don't expect the average Borders customer, who is busy complaining that the store doesn't carry enough "Obama is a secret Muslin" books, to notice the difference between the liquidator and The Artist Formerly Known as Borders. I DO expect someone hired to write a finance column to, since presumably they know what the f*ck they are talking about.

But I guess knowing what you're talking about comes second to cranking out another pay-by-the-word column when it gives you the chance to dump on a company already down. You should be proud of yourself, Ms. Sakralda!

Jul 27, 2011 11:08PM
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I did not go to Borders often but I have mixed feelings when I see a company like them go bankrupt.  First, I don't think you can consider them greedy because  I don't remember ever having to pay MSRP on any book I purchased there.  In addition, you had the option of becoming a member to receive additional discounts.  If you want to point the greedy finger, point it at the publisher.  Second, they were a company with thousands of employees which had to be paid.  I don't understand when people get angry at businesses because they make a profit.  Every business should be able to make a profit and obviously Borders wasn't extremely greedy because look where they are now.....Bankrupt.  So now we have 11,000 jobs lost which will add to the already huge unemployment numbers in the USA.  These are real people some of which have families to provide for.  Amazon is great because of the access to books that were out of stock or not being published anymore.  And obviously the price is much better.  I just hope that the people who are celebrating the closure of Borders aren't the same people who complain about not having a job or having so many things outsourced to other countries.
Jul 27, 2011 10:06PM
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Most of the people posting on here thinking they know why Borders is going out of business are just as ignorant as the people who are clearing these stores out in mass.  The discounts Borders gave to their FREE memberships were MUCH better than B & N and will be much better than the discounts you will get there for weeks (except for a few key items like Blu-ray @ 40% off right now).  If you were a smart shopper you would have reserved a book in the store by calling ahead and using your coupon to buy that one item.  There were plenty of good sales and coupons to use for those who could READ or PAY ATTENTION.  But the average consumer is too LAZY and IGNORANT to take advantage of what Borders was offering before their bankruptcy.  Now the stores are selling almost 10X the product daily to idiots who think that 10% is a great deal.  These shoppers care nothing for the cleanliness of the stores nor the employees who work there.  I know this because I AM one of these employees, and having worked for the company for well over a decade I know first hand WHY Borders is going out of business.  So when the discounts finally go beyond what even Amazon is offering and all of you finally come in to pick from the remains, just remember to treat us with a little respect and refrain from telling us again and again WHY this happened.
Jul 28, 2011 12:15AM
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Borders no longer exists, a liquidator is doing this...it is typical.  You swarm in looking for a deal the first week on the hype, but the deals are only superficial==most don't know and buy anyway.  In a few weeks the real sale begins, but then all you re left with are 'remainder books' stuff that does not sell and usually ends up at super discounters.
THe employees are already out of work, they are just there for this final sale, what they make and how long they make it is already set so separate the two.
In fact Borders returned books a week or so ago to small publishers as their contracts gave them the right to do.  The big publishers contracts don't give them that right.  I know a small publisher who got tons of returns last week, it is a very small operation of specialty books--they are really being hurt as this inventory now has to be refunded.
Jul 27, 2011 6:23PM
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they have to pay for all that real estate they own, the floors of which are plastered with non-buying nincompoops eating doughnuts and drinking coffee while they ruin the over- priced books they'll never buy.
Jul 28, 2011 9:12AM
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This is pretty simple stuff.   Buyer beware.   You pay more than you think you should and you have only yourself to blame.

 

I for one was happy to pay a little more at Borders for the convenience, the injection of local jobs and revenue it brought to our town.   I will miss it.   Not everything about the electronic and online society we live in now is good in my opinion.   It's not always about the bottom line dollar for me.

Jul 28, 2011 9:35AM
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Umm... You should have looked into this a little better. Borders can't control the prices of their liquidation. The liquidators do. Yes, Borders had better sales when they were Borders. There is nothing anyone can do about that. The consumer should be smarter, but most of them aren't. Don't attack the non-existent company when it is the liquidators doing. I am pretty sure the employees have enough to worry about without you bashing their store.
Jul 27, 2011 9:20PM
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goodness, hilco is a liquidation company. they deal in legal grave-robbing and they know how stupid the average consumer is. they also know that they need to get the most amount of money out of a company's remaining product in order to settle the outrageous debts that are left behind. so, sorry that you didn't shop at borders when they were laying out numerous 20%-40% off sales, creating buy 3 get 1 free deals, and sending out weekly 40% off coupons. if you had ever bothered to leave the security of your home internet connection, you would have been greeted with a world of really, truly discounted books.

it isn't a claim that hilco owns the company. any simple internet search will tell you that they bought the liquidation rights and that borders is under their direction. there won't even be a ceo for borders after friday, because there is no more borders. hilco did away with the standard borders discounts and began standard liquidation discounts.

but, hey, you probably never shopped there anyway. you've been buying your books from amazon for years and never bothered to think about how a real brick and mortar store has to run their business differently than a faceless warehouse-based internet store does. so, cheers to you. it's too bad that the closing of these 300+ stores means that 11,000 people are joining the unemployment lines, but it was probably their fault anyway.
Jul 28, 2011 10:19AM
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Having worked for a major retailer that  filed for bankruptcy and liquidated hundreds of stores nationwide, the liquidators control the pricing. Usually everything is taken to the original list price(not a discounted price). The Liquidators have complete control over liquidations. They are paid, in part, for the amount of money they bring from the liquidation. That's why the discounts are taken off the original list, or suggested manufacture's price, the highest possible retail price. Till the pricing is discounted around 50% off, usually you can find the product cheaper elsewhere. It just amazes me how many people get sucked into "liquidation pricing" thinking it's a good deal.
Jul 28, 2011 6:37AM
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We hit the local Borders last friday and it was crowded but i noticed that the popular struff- sci fi/mystery/horror/cooking were all just 10% off.  That's hardly enough to justify arm loads of books people were grabbing. My wife appeared with an arm load and I said "You know those are just 10% off right?"  "You're kidding?" She ut them all back. We checked them yesterday to see if the rate had improved, it hadn't and the shelves had not emptied much. Unless they do a better job, they will be left with alot of stock.
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