Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Please Welcome Borders to 2003.

Borders Books has announced a deal with Verizon, of all companies, to provide free wifi in their bookstores and cafes. The CEO of Borders said this is all part of "Re-engaging with customers as a serious bookseller" and "is one of our strategic priorities."

This of course has nothing to do with the fact that most local cafes and bookstores have been offering free wifi for the better part of a decade and, shockingly, Barnes & Noble just started offering free wifi. Oh yes. This has nothing to do with B&N.

This is the exact reason why Borders is an also-ran retailer that's been on the verge of insolvency for years. They don't lead. They don't think. They follow, and do a damn poor job of that.

Welcome to 2003, Borders. You're only six years behind the curve. Better than you've been in a long time.

UPDATE: Well, this is fun. You know how I complain about Barnes & Noble, Panera, and basically every other major corporation offering free wifi? Unlike Coffee Exchange, or Updike's Newtowne, or Bagelz, there is a portal page through which you must agree to terms, and then sign in.

Why are there terms? Because if there weren't, the company lawyers would have nothing to do. It's shitty, plain and simple. Well, Borders does them all one better. Instead of signing in and then assigning your computer an IP number based on your MAC address (if you didn't understand that, it's ok. All it meant was that the wifi recognizes your computer and lets it in.), Borders and Verizon actually have an application that runs in the background keeping your connection active. It actually hijacks the connection from the operating system and acts like some kind of wifi cop.

I didn't have my laptop with me, so I can't confirm if it's as deathly slow as Panera, Starbucks, or B&N, but chances are it is. These big companies don't fucking get it. It's not a business model. It's not something you can skimp on. Either do it right, or forget it. For my part, you know where I'll be? I'll be at Updike's Newtown, enjoying better espresso and better wifi.

Borders to offer free Wi-Fi (

No comments: