Jul 16, 2007

They Must Know My Mother-In-Law

There's an interview in today's Wall Street Journal with Borders (the bookstore) CEO George Jones. He discusses some of his plans for making the store more innovative, one of which is teaching older people (35 and up) how to download music to their iPods.

You've got to think about America in general. There are tons of people 35 and older who don't own an MP3 player, or if they have one, they don't know how to operate it. These are people who just won't take the time to learn how to do it. I'm like that myself. I love music, but I don't download music onto my iPod. We think there is a place for a retailer to offer a comfortable environment that offers guidance... Bring in your MP3 player and let us know what you want. We'll download it for you.
The comedic possibilities of this scenario are endless. But joking aside, does Jones really think that there are 35 year olds who don't know how to load an iPod? Or, more importantly, wouldn't be embarrassed to walk into a bookstore and admit this? Now he may be onto something, because, as we tend to forget living in our little bubbles, not everyone has internet access, let alone an iPod and DVR player.

My fear for Borders would be that setting yourself up as a haven for technophobes could position you in consumers minds as the technologically backwards bookstore. And that the market for technophobes is shrinking rather than growing.


George Parker said...

I used to be a Borders fan. Now I prefer Barnes & Noble... 'Cos I can Find MadScam in their stores. For some reason, hardly ever in Borders... Maybe they hate me along with Julie, Howard, Laurence etc. But that's OK 'cos you guys still love me.

raafi said...

Though both parents (well into their 60s) own iPods, only one knows how to import tracks into iTunes or download music. The other's favorite (mega) bookstore is Borders. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Watching a few older peeps in the Apple Store at the Genius Bar for a one-on-one tutorial, they were covering the most basic of things on the Mac.

I think it's very possible to expect people wouldn't mind going into Borders to learn something like that. Especially if it was handled right.

Maybe it could be done like a book reading where authors come in, but instead, it's a mini-workshop like Home Depot runs.

Alan Wolk said...

@MTLB: I can definitely see the Genius Bar/Mini-Workshop thing working. And, upon further reflection, I'm sure that for the CEO, flagging people "35 and up" was actually a clever move, since, by creating a broader age range, it removed the stigma of being seen as an old fogey for the vast majority of the target.