My wife and I added a trip to a Borders Bookstore to our plan this past weekend.  In case you haven’t heard, Borders is downsizing closing a bunch of stores due to bankruptcy.  Two closings in our area.  We saw an ad promising big discounts, so, why not?

We walked in, each with a couple books in mind, and that’s when it hit me.  “Oh-oh” I said, “how do I find my books?”  As I looked around at the categories it occurred to me the difference between how I buy books now and how this place requires me to buy.

Now I go to Amazon and type in the name of the book, or often a misspelled attempt at the name.  Bang, I’m there.  Usually with the option to buy it in an ebook and audio version as well.  Along with related choices.

Today, I find myself standing in the middle of a couple thousand books wondering if my book is in the technology section or business section.  Then I’ll need to hunt alphabetically by author.  Or is it by book title?  Screw it, I’m out of here.

I know, you’re thinking, Gee, poor Hamilton, imagine the horror of having to hunt alphabetically?!  Yeah, silly.  But real.  Book stores don’t work anymore the same way video stores don’t work anymore (We hit our Blockbuster Video — another retailer in bankruptcy — on the way home; they’re closing their store as well.).

My point isn’t to rag on or feel sorry for Borders or Blockbuster.  How we define ourselves matters.  Are you a book store or book seller?  A video store or video seller?  A news paper or news organization?  What are you and is that limiting how you grow?  The impact of Amazon or Netflix or how people consume news has been written about forever.  No news there.

Acting on an ah-ha moment BEFORE it becomes an uh-oh moment is the point.  How we define ourselves matters.  What are you and is that limiting how you grow?

We can understand how Borders or Blockbuster might spend time in denial.  Several thousand stores (and leases!) and tens of thousands of employees will do that to you.  But can you afford the consequences of non-action?  Of course you can’t.  So don’t.

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