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Consumer Reports' battle of the book stores: Borders vs. Barnes & Noble

Posted Wednesday, December 13, 2006

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Online counterparts Amazon.com and bn.com can offer greater average savings

Yonkers, NY — When comparing head-to-head retail book giants Borders, Barnes & Noble and their online counterparts Amazon.com and bn.com, Consumer Reports found shopping online proved better for cutting costs than buying at the store.

Consumer Reports shopped online and at the store for 23 specific titles. The list included a wide variety of new and old, best-selling and not, hardcover, classic paperbacks, and even a cookbook companion to a TV show. The retail price of CR’s shopping list was $565.

Amazon.com, which fills online orders for Borders, was the clear price winner ($360) offering discounts on 21 of 23 titles—a total savings of 36 percent off of list price. Barnes & Noble’s online store, bn.com, discounted 18 titles for a savings of 19 percent.

Shopping at the brick and mortar stores offered very little discount from either chain. Barnes & Noble held a slight edge, ($537) saving about 5 percent to Borders’ ($543) 4 percent discount off the list price.

CR’s battle of the bookstores story is available in the January issue, on sale on newsstands and in bookstores on December 5, 2006.

The showdown: Barnes & Noble vs. Borders


Service: CR’s secret shopper found Borders self-service kiosks to be a big plus if you have to look for a book. At Barnes & Noble you must ask a clerk for help. If the store is busy, like it often is during the holidays, this could add some wait time to your shopping schedule.

Gift Cards: Consumer Reports warns about getting the facts on gift card policies before you buy, but purchasing one from either Borders or Barnes & Noble are a safe bet as long as they’re eventually used. Gift cards purchased at either store never expire and don’t have dormancy of maintenance fees. If you buy a Barnes & Noble gift card over $200 online, you must pay for air delivery, at $8 to $12. Amazon.com offers gift certificates (Shipping is free), but they typically expire after two years.

Return Policies: Borders and most Barnes & Noble stores have a 30-day cash or credit-card return policy if you have the receipt. Borders told CR that during the holidays refunds are OK even after 30 days. Without a receipt, both chains offer store credit or a gift card. Purchases made at bn.com can be returned to any Barnes & Noble store for credit within 30 days of shipping. Returns of new books in original condition to Amazon.com are prorated after 30 days. You will receive 80 percent of the purchase price.

For more information about gift cards and return policies or the complete report on Consumer Reports’ battle of the bookstores visit www.ConsumerReports.org.

 
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Consumer Reports' battle of the book stores: Borders vs. Barnes & Noble
Borders and most Barnes & Noble stores have a 30-day cash or credit-card return policy if you have the receipt.
 
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