Is Borders Shrinking Its CD And DVD Sections?

We received this tip from an alleged Borders employee today. According to this person, if you saw some yellow discount tags of 30% off DVDs and CDs in your local Borders store this weekend, it’s a sign that they’re closing out those sections except for top sellers. Expect to see much steeper discounts in the coming weeks. The full tip is copied below.


Hello, I am a Borders employee in Massachusetts and I’m sharing some news with you. If you’ve traveled into your local Borders this past weekend and noticed yellow signs everywhere indicating 30% off DVDs and CDs, you may have thought that was excellent. But then again our prices have always been a little high, so it’s probably bringing it down to the same price as Amazon/Best Buy now.

Well hang in there. Over the next 7 week period most Borders are getting rid of 75% of their CDs and DVDs to pretty much get rid of the section, due to the economy and poor sales. To my understanding they will still be carrying the “top sellers” from that point on. But during the 7 week period I’ve been informed that the clearance prices will gradually rise from 30%, 40%, 50%, 75% and then FINALLY $1 to get everything else out the door.

They did this similar thing with all the calendars at the beginning of the year. But this is much bigger than calendars! So just a heads up if you happen to be in Borders, wait at least another week until the prices start to drop more.

(Photo: Infrogmation)

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  1. ElizabethD says:

    Too funny. I just came here right from the Borders.com web site where I checked to see if they had a book I need; am driving there in a few minutes. (Providence Place Mall) Thanks for the tip. I don’t generally buy DVDs from them, but may check back in a few weeks for deals.

  2. Illusio26 says:

    I got an email from them a week ago saying all the dvds in my store were 50% off (which they were when i visited the store).

  3. Canadian Impostor says:

    That’s neat, but even at 50% off, Amazon’s still probably cheaper.

  4. Jacob Morgan says:

    I did a double take the last time I was at Borders when I saw series 4 of Doctor Who for sale. Only one hundred dollars! I can’t say I’m too surprised they’re downsizing their selection.

    • Keavy_Rain says:

      @Jacob Morgan: Is that for the British version or US?

      If its US, does that mean HBO makes Doctor Who US?

      • Jacob Morgan says:

        @Keavy_Rain:
        Aside from the ’96 TV movie, there is no US version of Doctor Who. The new series airs on the SciFi channel and BBC America, though.

    • redskull says:

      @Jacob Morgan: @Jacob Morgan: Unfortunately that’s pretty standard (MSRP) pricing for BBC DVDs. You can get them cheaper online of course, but I think I still ended up paying around $50 – $60 for the Doctor Who sets. The BBC doesn’t like to discount.

  5. jackdangers says:

    This is true, being a Borders employee we’re in the midst of stickering our inventory. Any stickered CDs and DVDs are 30% off right now, and over time will move to 50% and then 75%. Apparently Borders has taken a big loss on stocking DVDs and CDs and is going to pretty much focus on new releases only, instead of stocking backlist and older titles too.

  6. sicknick says:

    The Borders in Oakland Mall at I-75 and 14 mile Rd north of Detroit has had DVD’s on sale for over a month. Kind of eclectic stuff, and it helped use the remainder of a 50 dollar gift card from Xmas to get something I actually wanted.

    If it gets even steeper I may head back. This one had a decent selection of cult movies I’d actually buy.

  7. Gorphlog says:

    This doesnt surprise me. I always wondered why they sold DVDs anyway. I havent heard of one person that says “Today is new release day, Im gonna see if they have so and so a movie at Borders”. Borders is the absolute last place I would go to buy a movie. Also the ones they do carry are so ridiculously priced that they would have to be %50 off just to compete with Best Buy, Amazon etc…

  8. mathew says:

    I talked to a sales guy at one of the local stores.

    He says Borders are getting out of the CD and DVD business entirely, because they aren’t making any money, and it takes too much cash up front to compete. Whereas with books they get them on consignment and can return unsold inventory, with CDs and DVDs they had to pay up front.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I use to work for Borders for about a year. We started to do this shortly after the Christmas 2007 season ended. The store I worked at in Wichita on North Rock cut its DVD and CD sections down to nearly a fraction of what we had been offering.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The Borders in Champaign, IL has reduced their CD section by half and has gotten rid of the “Local Music” kiosk they used to have. It was nice being able to sell our band’s music at a big store like that. Especially since there aren’t many other options for physical distribution around here anymore. The space that had been used for music is now all Manga.

  11. Skunky says:

    Borders always had horrid prices on DVD and CD’s compared to Fry’s, so no surprise that they’re ditching that part of their market.

  12. TheRedSeven says:

    I worked at Borders part time from December 2007 thru September 2008 to pay the bills. In Summer 2008, the Borders I worked at (Store #0564, Borders North & Halsted in Chicago), reduced the square footage for the Multimedia section (CDs and DVDs) by about 50%, condensing the section.

    This move doesn’t surprise me. Multimedia products were always low-margin for Borders (appx. 25% markup at retail, vs. 40% or higher for books), and the shrink (theft) was much higher than for books. So basically, it was a loss-leader–a way to get people in the store and hit them up for more sales with higher margins. As .mp3s and online retailers got more popular, fewer people wanted to shop retail for their items. It stopped being a way to get people through the door.

    What surprises me is that they are discounting these more than 30%. Most DVDs and CDs can be returned to the distribution warehouse for just the cost of shipping. Whereas many seasonal items (calendars) and gift items (stuffed plush animals, Paperchase items) are discounted 75% or more, and then listed for $1 before they are thrown in the trash, the cost of CDs and DVDs can be recovered by sending them back to the warehouse.

    So, I’m not surprised they’re selling them for 30% off. I’ll be much more surprised if they go 50% off or 75% off across the board. More likely, the majority of the inventory will be sent back to the warehouse and the remainder (the out-of-production titles) will go to the super-clearance rack.

    Granted, I saw Borders for the sinking ship that it is, and quit about 6 months ago. Things may have changed since then.

  13. Justifan says:

    their dvd/cd section was massively overpriced to begin with.

    and they never got the headphone/music browsing right.
    some stores have a stupid cd changer hooked up to headphones, controls are minimal. sometimes its just a a single featured cd. some stores do have a digital kiosk that lets you browse selection, but theres too few, and the controls are still limited. they don’t seem to get people just want to skip through the songs quickly to see whats on there and perhaps find something they like, putting in simplistic controls that makes you listen from the very start of every song is just not something thats reasonable for a customer sitting or standing in a store. a mac or pc running itunes woulda worked better than whatever silly solutions they had running in stores. so not only over priced, they didn’t make browsing their wares convenient when solutions were right there.

  14. metaled says:

    Alleged employee? You have doubt? Wouldn’t it be “Self described or proclaimed”?

  15. ajlei says:

    Current Borders employee here:

    Yes, certain stores are reducing their CD/DVD inventory based on sales. It should be noted that, at least in my zone, the tags are red, not yellow. Anyway, yeah, shrink is really high with the DVDs/CDs even when they’re keepered so I’m not too surprised we’re whittling that down. I should also mention that it’s not ALL Borders, just some.

    But if you guys are doubting people coming to a Borders for movies, you should’ve been there Friday night when Twilight was released. Yikes.

  16. HarbingerTG says:

    The Barnes and Nobles here in Jacksonville Florida seems to be doing the same thing.

  17. StutiCebriones says:

    Haven’t been into the North & Halsted store a previous commenter mentions, but at Chicago’s Diversey & Clark store, the basement that used to be packed with DVDs and CDs is a ghost town. I was in there two or three weeks ago and stumbled across it — and got the distinct impression all the good stuff was already gone.

  18. DePaulBlueDemon says:

    Their selection was always so over-priced.

  19. John Moore says:

    I wonder if that includes audio books as well. As a returns department manager for a audio book production company, we’ve got large shipments of our product shipped back rather than actually giving the money owed. I wouldn’t be surprised if Borders was scaled back quite a bit as a whole.

  20. PriceIsWrong says:

    I can verify this. My wife’s store and the other local locations have been moving away from CSs and DVDs over the last few years now.

    Most of them are pulling all out, like the article says.

    I love Borders for music and books, but for movies they just don’t buy enough to get that bulk discount to undersell places like Walmart or Best Buy.

    Too bad most current bookstores don’t keep a large stock anymore. It’d be nice to find some older things when I go in there.

  21. SpaceCat85 says:

    My local Borders (and Barnes & Noble) used to have a decent selection of CDs, but they’ve drastically cut back on their variety over the last couple of years. I pretty much never find what I’m looking for now unless it’s a big release, and if it’s something big I might as well down the road to Best Buy and pay less.

    I never even bother with the DVDs unless I’m desperate to find something now. They’re pretty much always $10 or so over what I’d pay online or in discount stores for the same movie, unless you luck out with the clearance bin.

  22. rlee says:

    Yep, just got the email this morning advertising 30% off on all CDs and DVDs. They listed a couple dozen stores around the country that were excluded, including 4 in Manhattan. Good to know more drops are to come.

  23. Wendy Sloan says:

    This would never happen if Borders sold videogames.

  24. Eric1285 says:

    This is awesome. There are a lot of CD’s I’ve been meaning to buy (yes, I still buy CD’s). Since pretty much no one else buys CD’s nowadays I can hopefully snag them at 50% off or better.

  25. ElizabethD says:

    Yep — went to the Providence Borders to pick up my book, and there were some bins of 30% off DVDs right inside the entrance. Waiting … waiting…

  26. Adhominem says:

    Former Borders Employee here: (store #0420)

    NEVER SHOP AT BORDERS. I REPEAT, NEVER EVER SHOP AT BORDERS.

    With a 40% off list price coupon, most of the time you’re still paying more than what Amazon.com sells it for. Furthermore, never order a used or out of print book from their kiosks. Their software automatically marks the prices up 30%.Futhermore, their CD/DVD’s are heavily marked up. Who still pays 24.99 for a non-special edition DVD?

    Corporate management has no idea what they’re doing and store level management is even more clueless. At one point Borders was wooing Barnes & Noble into buying them.

    The entire logistical structure of Borders is a mess. I’m not sure how they’re still in business.

  27. Thorgryn says:

    I never really saw the business sense of stocking movies and music in there in the first place.

    When I go to Borders, I go for books and magazines. The only reason I even go near that section is that the magazine rack is adjacent to the dvd rack. The selection they had there never interested me and the price overall was on average higher than the best buy less than half a mile away (if not cheaper from Amazon) Now it would be a shame if they got rid of the Audiobook section as I browse that sometimes. Normal music or dvds? I wouldn’t miss them one bit if they were completely removed.

    Of course, since I have both Amazon Prime and a Kindle, my visits to Borders have decreased a good deal. I do go in from time to time to explore and look for things that interest me that Amazon hasn’t told me about (which is dang scary with how it has learned my tastes)

  28. Anonymous says:

    @Keavy_Rain – there is no American version of Doctor Who, just the Edited for Time cut that runs on SciFI {I’m refusing to acknowledge their rebranding} and $100 seems about right- every store I’ve seen who carry Doctor Who on DVD run it at about $150 a season

  29. Trencher93 says:

    Barnes and Noble is – they moved to a new store where I live and said outright in their press release the DVD/CD section was smaller.

    They blamed people “downloading” on slow sales – nevermind that they have the absolute maximum highest prices on CDs I have seen anywhere.

  30. battra92 says:

    *sigh* I love Borders and much of my early DVD collection came from there. I remember my grandmother taking my brother and I there and we spent hours looking at DVDs. Of course then I got a credit card and Amazon.com (rightstuf.com for anime) and it was all downhill from there.

  31. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    The one near me is also at 50% off for DVDs. I might have actually bought something if the original price was visible on any of them. The season DVDs are all in a locked case and there aren’t any signs or stickers to indicate price.

  32. chai_tea says:

    This time last year, we heard that Borders stores were reducing book inventory by around 5%-10%. I do wonder if all this new in-store real estate will go back to books.

  33. Christopher Carey says:

    Thanks SickNick,

    I’m in Auburn Hills so I will take a peek around me too.

  34. gttim says:

    This sucks! I actually bought a CD from them 2 weeks ago. I was actually surprised they had a decent selection of CDs. Yes, they were overpriced, but they actually had something other than the top sellers. I was thinking, “If they actually lowered their prices to a slightly competitive amount, they could become a huge seller of CDs, because nobody else sells the damn things anymore!”

    No chain sells a decent selection of CDs! They all just do the top sellers. Need an early Clash CD? Borders actually had it in stock. I could put my slimy hands on it today and listen to it. I have to order everything from Amazon, because nobody else carries crap! The big box chains put most of the small chains independents out of business, but now they are shrunk their selection to nothing. Best Buy had a decent selection for a while, but it has shrunk as well. Borders should actually get a knowledgeable music person to set up their stores and make money.

  35. vladthepaler says:

    Will Borders be using all the floorspace currently devoted to CDs/DVDs to increase the size of its book selection? That would be awesome. Though with everything being considerably cheaper on amazon, I’m not sure if selection alone would be enough to make me shop at Borders.

  36. Mary Marsala with Fries says:

    D’oh, now I feel bad for not sending in a tip — I went to Borders last week, just to look at books basically, and ALL their DVDs and CDs were half off. Even anime. It was wild, and while pretty well picked-over, we still walked away with some great deals. When we asked an employee what was up, he said they were going to stop carrying those items and focus on books. Which is actually great by me; I was never impressed (until this sale!) with their prices and selection anyway. They should stick with books and related things, you know, like coffee. ;)

  37. dvdchris says:

    @TheRedSeven:
    This has to be stuff they can’t return to the distributor. The first step any retailer will do when reducing a product line is return whatever they can.
    DVD retail sales are down, and probably not going back up; so I am not surprised to hear about stores getting out of the packaged media business, except for new release and top selling items.
    The usual cost on a new release DVD is about $18.50, so to even make a couple of bucks on it, retailers that have to actually make margin on product have to price it over $20. Factor in theft and you have a product line with thin margins.

  38. Anonymous says:

    The Borders in Fort Lee, NJ was at 50% off last weekend. With the discount, most of the stuff I purchased was about $2-4 below typical Amazon prices. The discount does NOT apply to audiobooks.

  39. yami990 says:

    hmm i better see about making a trip to borders then since they’re selling all of the dvd’s and cd’s off to see if i can find any worth buying. they always have been very overpriced for what they have when it’s movies and music.

  40. Anonymous says:

    The coupon mailed out today from Borders Rewards included a list of stores where there is NOT a clearance of CD/DVDs, so one would assume that the department will remain at the following locations:

    Arizona: Tucson (E. Broadway); California: Mira Loma; San Diego (Mission Valley); San Francisco, (Stonestown); San Francisco (Union Square); San Rafael; Sand City; Connecticut: Stamford; Delaware: Newark; Florida: Miami (S. Dixie Hwy.); Hawaii: Honolulu; Maui; Kentucky: Louisville (Gardiner Lane); Illinois: Chicago (Michigan Ave.); Chicago (State St.); Oak Brook; Maine: South Portland; Maryland: Annapolis; Massachusetts: Boston (School St.); Michigan: Beverly Hills; Nevada: Las Vegas (S. Decatur); New York: Manhattan (Columbus Circle); Manhattan (Park Ave.); Manhattan (Penn Plaza); Manhattan (Wall St.); Oregon: Tigard; Pennsylvania: Philadelphia (Chestnut Hill); Washington, D.C. (L St.); and Puerto Rico: Hato Rey.