In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, new Borders CEO George Jones said, “I have a ton of ideas of things I can do with the relationships I built over those years in Hollywood that I think I can tap into that could help differentiate us as a company and make us stand out versus our competitors.”
By a strange coincidence, Return of the Reluctant received an email this morning from an anonymous Borders employee. The email contained an attachment: a scanned image of a crude handwritten note with the header “George’s Ideas.” I have no idea if this note was scribbled at a company meeting (by Jones’ own hand or one of his minions?) or if the thoughts were taken down by Jones’ personal assistant. (I understand he has twelve of them now.) But it took me about 90 minutes to decipher the unruly scrawl, but here is my best stab:
1. Hire MovieTunes guy to replace classical music over store speakers. Play adult contemporary music (Book tie-in? What about the Rock Bottom Remainders?) and bombard customer base with title suggestions. Frequently use words like “hot” and “exciting” to create sense of excitement. Consult marketing team for latest buzz words.
2. Place screens at various points in the store and display advertisements from local businesses with book trivia. Keep trivia questions simple so as not to challenge customer base. (Ex.: “Who wrote Moby Dick?”)
3. Hire paparazzi reporters to accompany and harass writers at book signings. We need spectacle. Add velvet rope and grunts in black shirts reading SECURITY during autograph sessions. Manhandle the plebs. Let them wait. We want star power, motherfuckers!
4. Replace all cafes with concession stands and raise prices to increase profit margin. What were they thinking with these espressos? If you keep the customer base awake, they will stick around and disrupt our staff from stocking. We don’t want this. Bog their stomachs down with buttered popcorn and Milk Duds so that they’ll have to leave. Deny access to bathroom to discourage them from lingering. We need to adopt a new strategy here: our customers need to buy their books and leave. Change refund policy to make it more difficult for them to return stock. Adopt 15% restocking fee.
5. Pay all employees at minimum wage and hire cash-starved teenagers instead of book enthusiasts. We’ll be able to cut our payroll costs down and, more importantly, discourage banter between staff and customers. This will permit our customers to buy books accidentally. Let them do the footwork if they need a particular title.
6. If the staff absolutely must talk with customers, let them begin all answers to questions with the phrase, “In a world….”