You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Aug 31, 2010 : 10:50 a.m.

Borders upgrading rewards program in effort to lure more customers

By Nathan Bomey

Ann Arbor-based book store chain Borders Group Inc. is hoping to attract more business with an enhanced version of its loyalty program.

The company said today that it would offer a premium version of its Borders Rewards program for customers willing to pay $20 a year for better deals and their purchases.

Borders concept store.JPG

Borders is upgrading its loyalty program and lowering the price on the e-readers it sells.

Photo by Lon Horwedel |

Borders also plans to upgrade the free Borders Rewards program, which it will continue to offer. The traditional Borders Rewards will offer 30 percent off the list price of "hardcover bestsellers" and free shipping on online orders of $25 or more, Borders said. That offer matches's popular offer, which provides free shipping on orders of $25 or more.

Borders regularly e-mails coupons and promotional announcements to the 40 million members of its loyalty program.

The company's chief physical store competitor, Barnes & Noble, offers perks to people who pay a $25 annual membership fee.

For Borders, the loyalty program upgrades are aimed at generating more foot traffic and convincing shoppers who visit the store to buy something.

The announcement comes as Borders has failed to reverse a continuous revenue slide and faces long-term questions about its viability as an independent retailer.

The company plans to report its second-quarter financial results Wednesday morning, giving investors a peek at the health of the company.

“We saw a great opportunity to differentiate Borders in the marketplace by offering the choice of a paid program or a free program,” said Mike Edwards, CEO of Borders Group subsidiary Borders Inc., in a statement. “The new Rewards program will provide members with more relevant content, benefits and discount offers. It’s yet another example of Borders’ commitment to creating an outstanding customer experience.”

The new $20 Borders Rewards Plus program gives members free shipping on all online orders. It also provides 40 percent off the list price of hardcover bestsellers, 20 percent off the list price of "select hardcovers" and 10 percent off the price of "most everything else," Borders said.

Borders also said that it was reducing the prices of the e-readers it sells. The Kobo eReader will be sold for $129 and the Aluratek device will be sold for $99.99.

The cuts are part of a price war in the e-reader industry that experts believe could continue into the holiday shopping season.

Borders also announced that a new partnership with Build-A-Bear, which will be sell 28 products in Borders super stores in an area branded as "Build-A-Bear Craft Shop."

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Thu, Sep 2, 2010 : 10:18 a.m.

@Rasputin I've had a card for years and I've had no idea you could collect and redeem rewards. I only used it when I wanted to use a coupon. Huh. Learn something every day.


Wed, Sep 1, 2010 : 12:44 p.m.

Please! A day late and dollar short. I never understood the rewards program.


Wed, Sep 1, 2010 : 8:25 a.m.

Also, didn't they just open a new store in the Scio shopping center (near Best Buy)? So they can't be hurting THAT bad, right?


Tue, Aug 31, 2010 : 5:55 p.m.

@bruceae: If you honestly think a brick and mortar store is going to price match with a separate online competitor, you've had your head in the sand for years. Brick and mortar stores have more costs and overhead associated with them than online retailers. This has been the case since the dawn of internet commerce. I would have laughed had you asked.


Tue, Aug 31, 2010 : 3:57 p.m.

@bruceae in case you haven't noticed, the empty space down from that Borders hasn't been filled yet. Go ahead and hope for a new retailer. It may take a while even if Borders goes under. I for one, still go to Border's and use their coupons as much as I can. They can save you plenty.


Tue, Aug 31, 2010 : 3:09 p.m.

I was at the Arborland Borders yesterday. Unless you're buying a cookbook in the discount section or something on the top seller list it's almost impossible to spend your money there. They've replaced their customer service desk with an e-reader station. And good luck finding anybody on the floor to help you find something. I usally wait in line at the cashier to get some help. I know how everybody feels. You want to support a local business but they keep making it harder and harder.

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Aug 31, 2010 : 3:05 p.m.

So, it would cost me $20 a year to possibly save some money through their program? And they call that a "Reward"? Who are they kidding? Ridiculous.

Mumbambu, Esq.

Tue, Aug 31, 2010 : 2:36 p.m.

I used to love Borders' reward program but when they tweeked it a couple years ago it was enough to send me to Barnes and Noble. The membership at Barnes and Noble is well worth it to people who go there regularly.


Tue, Aug 31, 2010 : 2:27 p.m.

Last time I was in Borders was last November and I was in the store on Washtenaw looking for the "Twilight" gift set. I had printed out the price from Amazon and Borders was $20.00 higher. I asked the sales clerk to match the price because I would prefer to support a local business. She was very rude and stated that they do not match other retailers prices. I haven't been back since and look forward to seeing a new retailer in their space.


Tue, Aug 31, 2010 : 1:55 p.m.

The only time I even buy books anymore is for gifts for others. Otherwise, I just get my books from the library.


Tue, Aug 31, 2010 : 1:12 p.m.

@DagnyJ - currently if you spend 150 dollars, you get a $5 voucher that is redeemable within a 30 day period. They don't do a great job of telling you that you have accumulated this much, so often it expires before I have a chance to use it, but I appreciate it when I do notice in time to take advantage of it. I always thought if they removed the 30 day restriction and let this build over time, the program would be more successful. Maybe even making it $5 for every $100 instead -- $150 in books takes a while to accumulate (at least, for me). Of course, I would not pay for this program.


Tue, Aug 31, 2010 : 12:58 p.m.

the truth is books are overpriced. increasing the discount to 40% is interesting, 40% is the profit on a book to begin with so they won't be increasing sales with this method. They're basically leaving new releases to be loss leaders in hopes the secondary purchases will make up for it. I see this as a bad sign. I give borders 2 years before they go completely under.


Tue, Aug 31, 2010 : 12:26 p.m.

Sorry Borders....this minor change in your rewards program will not give you enough cash to survive the holiday season...too little too late


Tue, Aug 31, 2010 : 12:10 p.m.

or do a deal like DSW or CVS. After you buy a lot of stuff, you get a coupon for a big discount.

Nathan Bomey

Tue, Aug 31, 2010 : 10:39 a.m.

More on the Build-A-Bear partnership from Bloomberg:


Tue, Aug 31, 2010 : 10:29 a.m.

a straightforward cash discount for members...ala barnes and noble...would be better/more attractive by far.