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Borders' secret inventory searchSo you desperately want that book everyone’s been talking about, Getting Things Done. You could order it from Amazon, but you hate waiting. Luckily, there’s a Borders bookstore around corner. You like saving time, so you go online to Borders.com. to make sure the store has it in stock before you head out. But wait, you can’t find the inventory search anywhere on the site. What gives?

That’s right, instead of putting the store inventory search in the most logical and obvious place, the company’s stashed it away on their lesser known corporate site, BordersStores.com. I suspect it’s to do with their partnership with Amazon.com. You won’t find any explicit link to it anywhere on Borders.com.

To check if your local Borders bookstore has the book you want:

  1. Go to the “My Stores” section on BordersStores.com, and add your local store using the form on the left.
  2. Next, go to “Search Inventory” in the main navigation and use the form on that page to search for your book.
  3. In the search results, click on your book and you’ll see the book’s availability on the right.
  4. If the book’s in stock, you can save more time by using the “Reserve for in-store pickup” link. A staffperson will look for your book and put it on hold for you at the register.

Given the convenience of this search tool, it amazes me why Borders doesn’t promote it on their main site and why other stores like Barnes & Nobles or the Virgin Megastore don’t offer similar tools.

39 Comments

  • Chris Davies

    gravatarOct 9, 2006
    6:23 am

    Sadly it’s US-specific. Oi Borders, what about us UK people?!

  • mark

    gravatarOct 9, 2006
    9:33 am

    shhh… don’t tell anyone

  • Diana

    gravatarOct 9, 2006
    11:15 am

    This is actually the website that Borders and Waldenbooks (and any other subsidies out there) use when asked if they have anything in their store (or any stores nearby). As far as I know, the update rate on books is rather quick – I think the book inventory lists are updated nightly.

  • Bryan

    gravatarOct 9, 2006
    11:46 am

    Thanks for the tip, Chanpory!

  • Chanpory

    gravatarOct 16, 2006
    11:07 am

    Chris, I tried looking for a UK version of the search tool. But sadly can’t find one either :-(. I’m still boggled why more stores don’t offer inventory checks!

  • peterbaker

    gravatarJan 27, 2007
    9:11 pm

    Yeah, it’s all because of the Amazon thing. I actually used to work on Borders.com, and what is now BordersStores.com was supposed to be the main site (and was almost ready to launch) until we found out that Borders.com was just going to be an Amazon skin. The inventory search is a Borders-maintained thing whereas the borders.com site is entirely run by Amazon, with graphics sent to them by Borders. So yeah…

  • Michael

    gravatarFeb 22, 2007
    10:45 pm

    not everybody is dummy like you honey…i have been using this search since 2000. if you open your eyes you would have seen it very first time too.

  • michael

    gravatarFeb 22, 2007
    10:47 pm

    Not everybody is dummy like you honey. i have been using this search since 2000. you just need to keep your eye open

  • butterfly

    gravatarMay 26, 2007
    10:45 am

    as a borders employee, i can guarantee you that what the computer says is NOT ALWAYS RIGHT. i spent an hour around christmas trying to find a manga for a customer that our computer system said we had but def. was not in the store.

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE respect your booksellers: even if the search says your local store does have a book, don’t believe that word to be law…

  • Lee2706

    gravatarJun 7, 2007
    3:49 pm

    Yeah, don’t believe the hype. I’ve relied on the Online Inventory search too often to only be disappointed at the brick and mortar store.

    Perhaps someone else wanted the one copy of the book so badly they applied the five finger discount. Or, they skillfully hid it behind other books in another section to come buy it later. That’s what I would do.

  • Mike

    gravatarSep 23, 2007
    5:14 pm

    Sadly, the epidemic of lazy writing continues… Another blog post that begins the conversation with the word “So”. Inappropriate, lazy and simply wrong grammar.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarSep 23, 2007
    7:42 pm

    So Mike, thanks for the writing critique. Since this is a blog–not a novel, academic paper, or treaty–I try keep a rather casual and conversational tone. That means, I’ll occasionally, sometimes often, break the rules of “proper” English and grammar.

    I’m also a one-man shop, and I don’t have a copy editor or proofreader to keep me on my toes. So Mike, if you’re volunteering to be my copy editor, I’d gladly accept. ;-)

  • Lady Iynh

    gravatarNov 9, 2007
    4:36 pm

    As harsh as he is, Michael is right. Borders had this in easier reach back before they joined with Amazon. But hey as long as they have it tucked away in some cozy little cornor I’m happy

  • EricTN

    gravatarJan 5, 2008
    1:52 pm

    Does Barnes & Noble have a check-if-its-in-stock-at-a-particular-store feature?

  • dae

    gravatarJan 8, 2008
    2:40 am

    As a Border’s employee, I can tell you some of the reasons why the inventory lists can differ from the actual available in store stock: 1.) It has been sold between the time the list was updated and your presence in the store 2.) It was stolen 3.) It was mis-filed, or is in the pile to be filed 4.) This is a big one- the book is in our store, but it is in one of 50 unopened boxes we recieved in shipment a day or two ago in the stock room 5.) The item may be out on loan to an employee- as an employee we are allowed to use store inventory as a library of sorts. We are allowed to check out up to two books at a time for two weeks. As long as the books are returned in PRISTINE condition, they are placed back on the shelf to be sold. The employee borrowed book list is kept in an old fashioned binder in the safe.

    We really DO want you to find the book you are looking for, that is how we stay in business. However, if you are making a special trip out to our store for a specific title, PLEASE CALL AHEAD. It saves you time and aggravation, and helps us out, too. One thing to note, however, is that one store will NOT have any information on another store’s inventory.

    I hope this helps! This applies to all Border’s Books, Border’s Express (smaller stores without the coffee bar, etc. in a mall, for example), Waldenbooks and Brentano stores.

  • its another secret

    gravatarFeb 23, 2008
    9:43 pm

    this inventory search isn’t the one we use in store its the one we have up on our computers for customers to use yes but employees use an in house “intranet” program to search local stores and such. the system like a lot of other have said is a lot of times incorrect because of a variety of reasons, most of which are because someone else beat you to the store or someone else called ahead and had it placed on hold. it also shows us that we have one in the store sometimes when borders search (the online tool mentioned) says you must order it, usually this is due to a shipping error from the warehouse. in any event the borders.com website is just a part of amazon basically, borders uses them to sell their books online hence why you cant use this search tool to search our inventory…. cuz its NOT OUR INVENTORY!! it’s amazons. duh. i’m sick of uneducated customers calling our store and saying “well you have it online!” or “it’s cheaper on your website!” thats because it’s not our website… it won’t be available till later this year or beginning of next. chances are if you’re not smart enough to realize that you’re on amazon’s site you probably shouldn’t be going to book stores in the first place, you should be going to commonsense for dummies 101. another tip for anyone reading this…. since you’re online right now bother to look up the name of the book or author you want before calling the store and keeping someone on the phone for 1/2 an hour cuz the only thing you know about the book you want is that it’s a book, it’s green, and your friend sue really liked it. thanx.

  • Dragon

    gravatarMar 7, 2008
    2:06 pm

    And, as you can tell from the last comment, we’re all about great and friendly customer service! The reasons given for not being able to find your book are accurate, however; and having worked in inventory for 2 years, I’ll just say it’s impossible to have everything out as soon as we get it. As was said earlier, when we get 2-3 pallets of books (at 49 boxes per pallet) every other day, sometimes we can get behind; and, unfortunately, cannot go in back to open boxes and look for the book. At our store, however, we will even call other bookstores for you to see if we can save you the trouble of running all over town. Just because we don’t have it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the book you need. Makes most people happy, at least, and they do come back.

  • juliemarg

    gravatarApr 29, 2008
    9:49 am

    What a fabulous tip! I’m less than a mile from Borders and hang out there alot. My latest read ?- Julie & Julia by Julie Powell. It’s about a bloggers attempt to cook every recipe in Learning Art of French Cooking by Julia Childs. Hilarious.

  • linda constanza

    gravatarMay 15, 2008
    5:37 am

    cool feature No secret though, otherwise it would not be there

  • UnfrozenCaveGirlMarketer

    gravatarMay 31, 2008
    10:18 am

    Hey, the new Borders e-commerce site has the store inventory search tool built-in.

  • Amy

    gravatarJul 12, 2008
    10:22 am

    Re: Dae’s comment. I’d like to add; when looking for a title at Bordes, please make sure to check various “categories.” Oftentimes I’ve found things that were supposed to be shelved in “Literature” in the Romance Section, and vice versa. Also, check other category genres from where the book was supposedly to have been shelved; I so frequently find things misshelved in my Borders store. Also, check for proper alphabetization of LAST names. I’ve been surprised how out of order things can be shelved. Some even by first names; give me a break! Also, check “understock” where available.

  • Lalam

    gravatarSep 5, 2008
    6:44 pm

    Okay, so I click “My stores” and it goes to that page where you type the location. Then I clicked go after putting in the correct info’, and it directed me straight to their store locator, not allowing me to search in the inventory, and it won’t save on bordersstores.com.

  • Tim

    gravatarSep 6, 2008
    7:48 am

    Correct. The new site removed features. Nice. I used to buy $1000 worth of books from Borders a year. I might buy ZERO in the future.

  • me

    gravatarSep 16, 2008
    11:43 am

    You can see if an item is available at a local Borders by searching for it at Borders.com and using the “check store inventory” box which is a few boxes under “add to cart.” Put in your zip code and it will show a number of stores saying either “likely in store” (in which case you can reserve it) or “out of stock” (and lets you buy through Borders.com).

    If you previously saved some stores at the old BordersStores.com website on your computer you can still search those stores directly at BorderStores.com/search. (You can only reach it at that address, since BordersStores.com sends you back to the new Borders.com). Unfortunately you can’t add new stores, since the store search function sends you back to the new site.

    However, if you search the new web site and click on a store, you will see that the browser adress end in something like “StoreDetailView_31”. Turn the ending digits into a 3 digit number (ie. 31 should be 031) and replace this store number into the following website. (ie replace ID=001 to ID=031)

    http://www.bordersstores.com/stores/store_pg.jsp?storeID=001

    This should now show your chosen store in the old Bordersstore.com format and you can save and search this store.

  • Terry

    gravatarDec 3, 2008
    7:35 am

    No go on the individual store link, it now goes to the new customer unfriendly site. I’m with Tim, I’ll shop somewhere else.

  • Monica

    gravatarJan 7, 2009
    9:53 am

    The Bordersstores.com site has disappeared from the web in Fall ’08. If there is a way to search Botders’ inventory now, I haven’t found it.

  • Susan

    gravatarFeb 11, 2009
    7:47 am

    Just go to http://www.borders.com, look up a book and under the “add to cart” and “add to wish list” buttons, you’ll see a box where you can put in your zip code to check store inventory.

  • Jinkers

    gravatarFeb 17, 2009
    7:12 pm

    Semi related to this topic, I heard there’s a movement afoot with many publishers to convert their current returns policy (ironically, a depression-era policy) to Borders as “Non-returnable”. From what I could gather from the blog postings, this is a result of Borders unloading tons upon tons of unsold books- some dating back years- to the publishers or distribution warehouses last year in their attempts to inflate/deflate their inventory value. What, if any, affect would this have on us book buyers? Not that I return books- when I buy em, I keep em- and I have to say, as an frequent Indie shopper- I like the idea of sticking it to a place like Borders. Jinkers

  • Billyboy

    gravatarMar 6, 2009
    2:42 am

    Nothing works to search Borders Express stores. It shows up as a viable store in the store search, but when I want to check that store’s inventory, it comes up with a big, fat goose egg. This stinks.

  • annoyed

    gravatarJul 28, 2009
    8:00 am

    Susan, thats nice, but its useless if you want to search specific store’s inventory for a subject… for example, I wanted to see what books on cisco networking were available from my local Borders… you can’t unless you manually select each and every book that comes up on the Borders site and tell it to check the inventory. Needless to say, this is very frustrating and time consuming.

  • chris

    gravatarAug 27, 2009
    3:07 pm

    I remember when you could go to the store and use their computers(intranet) to order books to the store without paying for them in advance(even used books).You would pay for them once borders recieved them.A year ago you could even do this online but now you have to pay for them online to ship to the store.It’s the same with the intranet program at their stores you can no longer order books through there.Anyone know why you cant ship to the store for free anymore?

  • Gregg

    gravatarDec 8, 2009
    10:10 am

    This is much simpler, people. If Borders insists on making purchases so difficult, there are other book stores to work with. To hell with bumbling through multiple websites trying to find a copy when I can easier contact Vroman’s (or other book store’s) site.

  • Steve

    gravatarJan 12, 2010
    8:27 am

    I am not able to find the “my store” section or the “search inventory” section. Has this feature disappeared?

  • Book Seller

    gravatarFeb 3, 2010
    10:08 am

    Chris, I’m surprised no one has answered your question from August. The reason you must prepay now is simple. People would have us order books and then they would not buy them. The books were often not returnable, so we would end up stuck with them in our inventory. People would sometimes have us special order a title just because they thought we should carry it! It was a time-consuming archaic way of doing things. Borders.com is free to ship to the store, and in most cases only takes about a week. That is the same time it took before.

  • Dina Sorensen

    gravatarFeb 19, 2010
    1:28 pm

    I have tried repeatedly to call Borders in Rockford, Illinois to find out if they have a book I want in stock. I do not live in Rockford so I want to be sure they have the book before I get in the car and go there. THEY DO NOT ANSWER THE PHONE! Now I am going to call Barnes & Noble and see if they answer the phone. If they do, that’s where I will shop for books and other products from now on.

  • Jode

    gravatarMay 31, 2010
    8:18 am

    It doesn’t seem that the BordersStores site exists any more. I got the Borders site and there was no “my stores” setting

  • Patsy Mitchell

    gravatarJun 5, 2010
    9:17 pm

    i am looking for the book The belly fay cure by Jorge cruise

  • Patsy Mitchell

    gravatarJun 5, 2010
    9:18 pm

    i am looking for the book The belly fat cure by Jorge cruise

  • Lauren

    gravatarJun 15, 2010
    8:17 pm

    Barnes and Noble does have the reserve in store feature….you check to see if it’s in stock and then you reserve it. The store emails you as soon as they have it pulled from the shelves.