Can Borders’ new concept store push toward a brick-and-mortar future?

I haven’t been there yet (it just opened today), but Borders has just opened their first new “concept” store right around the corner from my house. Eighteen months in development, this store is out to change Borders’ future prospects and help stop the losses.

At this point, it’s unclear to me what bookstores will look like in 10 years. The Kindle, while certainly not perfect, is a glimpse of a more paperless future that I think will come to pass at some point. In the meantime, though, something like this new Borders sounds like the right idea. They’re looking to blend their traditional book and music selling business with how people are actually making use of the content. They’ve got kiosks where you can buy prints of photos or custom burned CDs. You can also load up your MP3 player… except…


The only glitch so far: The digital services don’t work with Apple’s iPod, something Borders says it’s working on. [From Borders offers preview of new concept store – Latest from the Ann Arbor News – MLive.com]

It’s hard to say who’s at fault for this, be it the record labels or Apple, but Borders’ inability to sell music that can be loaded directly onto iPods eliminates 70% of the digital music players out there. Just as online sellers have been battling these past 10 years to sell content in convenient electronic forms online, brick and mortar stores like Borders are going to have a challenge creating interesting and useful physical destinations in an age of electronic content.