Friday, May 16, 2008

Ancestry Adventures at Borders Bookstore

Borders Bookstores announced their "Concept Store" on 14 February 2008 in Ann Arbor MI, and Dick Eastman was probably the first to notice that the announcement included a sentence:

"Customers interested in tracing their roots can access 'Borders Genealogy Services' provided by Ancestry.com, and because many Borders customers are authors looking to publish their own work, the Digital Center also includes 'Borders Personal Publishing' powered by Lulu.com."

In March, DearMYRTLE also wrote about the Concept Store and the opening of a store in Las Vegas that included this sentence:

"The store blends digital and Internet options with a fresh new look, enriching in-store services, and a number of exciting features to create a uniquely satisfying customer shopping experience. "

My CVGS colleague John Finch told me the other day that a new Borders Bookstore had opened at the Westfield Bonita Plaza shopping center in National City, and that they had Ancestry.com on their computers for patrons to use.

Rather than stay in a warm house today, I chose to go to the shopping center today for lunch and to check out the new Concept Store and see what they had for family history researchers. I am really impressed!!!

First, they do have Ancestry Institution (which is an Ancestry World Deluxe collection, minus some features, such as DNA, Publish and Store) on three computers in the central technology area, plus six more computers scattered around the books and other products. You can check out the historical records, family trees, stories and publications and photos and maps sections. The Ancestry capabilities are identical to what are at the 13 Regional Family History Centers (including San Diego). At this time, a customer can print out pages for free in this store! The guy who I talked to said someone was there for three hours the other day and printed a whole handful of papers.

The central technology area has several kiosks - one for Family History, one for Personal Publishing using Lulu, and one for creating Photo Albums. In the Family History area, there is a book display for family history books, including "Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008," "Finding Your Mexican Ancestors," "Finding Your Irish Ancestors," and several others.

They are also selling FamilyTreeMaker 2008 software (plus a training DVD and several other e-books) in three different forms -

* $29.99 with a one-month Ancestry US Deluxe subscription.

* $69.99 with a three-month Ancestry US Deluxe subscription.

* $99.99 with a six-month Ancestry US Deluxe subscription.

Each of those is a pretty good bargain if you want FTM 2008 and an Ancestry subscription.

This seems like an excellent marketing strategy by both Ancestry and Borders. Ancestry gets people interested and sells their software and subscriptions, and Borders makes something from the sales. And it's a one-stop shop for people who want to make a photo album easily, or publish a book easily. However, they are not offering Internet access.

My second thought was how can my genealogy society take advantage of this opportunity, and I thought of:

* Encourage our members to use the Ancestry Institution down at Borders - the more people who use it, the longer they will keep it. Even if they charge for printing at some time, it is still a bargain. It's also closer and more accessible for our members who don't want to go all the way to or on the freeway to the FHC.

* Determine if Borders will refer patrons to our society if they ask about it. Perhaps we can put our brochures in the Family History area.

* Offer beginning genealogy classes to Borders patrons - see if they will take signups for classes at the library.

* See if they want a "genealogy consultant" on a regular basis to help people use Ancestry. Sounds like fun!

To top it off, they have a coffee shop inside the Borders store and the food court is right outside the front door. I may go shopping more often! Linda will be surprised by my newfound eagerness to go to Plaza Bonita - I always go to the bookstore anyway while she shops for gifts, jewelry or clothes.

It was interesting to see the emphasis on technology items - CDs, DVDs, photos, e-books, audio-books, genealogy, etc. in addition to the traditional book selections. They aren't selling expensive hardware (not computers or cameras) but they are selling MP3 players, photo frames, music by the song, CDs, DVDs, movies, etc. They are also selling "bring-it-in-services" and software.

The fellow I talked to said that Borders Concept Stores were scheduled soon for Riverside, San Francisco and Seattle ... and many more locations, I'm sure.

UPDATE 5/17: Schelly Talalay Dardashti in comments pointed our her Tracing the Tribe blog post back in February about this super store - she even called the company for more information, which resulted in a list of locations. Read Schelly's post here.

Lisa Louise Cooke commented that "On March 1, 2008 I published Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #43 which featured an extensive interview with Dylan Barrell, Director of Digital Business at Borders, all about Ancestry at Borders. To listen to the interview go to www.GenealogyGems.TV, click PODCAST and go to Episode 43, or you can find it in iTunes. Lisa Louise Cooke, The Genealogy Gems Podcast." You can find Lisa's post at http://genealogygemspodcast.com/index.php?post_id=312569.

3 comments:

Bill West said...

Hi Randy,
As a genealogist AND a Borders
employee, I was hoping one of you
more experienced geneabloggers would be weighing in on the new Ancestry stations. You have some great ideas!

There's a new Borders opening in a month down in Chatham by Cape Cod
and it will have the same features
you found at the one you visited.

BIll

Genealogy Gems said...

Hi Randy, On March 1, 2008 I published Genealogy Gems Podcast episode #43 which featured an extensive interview with Dylan Barrell, Director of Digital Business at Borders, all about Ancestry at Borders. To listen to the interview go to www.GenealogyGems.TV, click PODCAST and go to Episode 43, or you can find it in iTunes. Lisa Louise Cooke, The Genealogy Gems Podcast

Bill West said...

OOPS!

The new store is in Wareham, not
Chatham!

Bill