Borders, the nation's second largest bookstore chain, has opened the first of its new concept stores in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The new store, the first of 14 such stores Borders plans to open this year, features a new merchandising approach to books, emphasizing five categories -- Traveling, Cooking, Wellness, Graphic Novels, and Children's Books -- each with its own themed island.  The fact that graphic novels are included as a 'category of emphasis' demonstrates that this form of illustrated literature remains one of the major growth areas in the bookstore market, with the critical mass to support expanded merchandising.  


The centerpiece of the concept store is an attempt to capitalize on the very technology that has kneecapped traditional CD sales and even poses a potential threat to book sales--a Digital Center where customers can download music to create their own mix CDs, create photo books, explore their family history, and download books for a Sony digital reader.  Trained staff will help customers accomplish these digital feats and even print out CD covers for those who download entire albums.


Other Borders concept stores set to open this year include: Las Vegas (April), Panama City Beach, FL (May), National City, CA (May), Alameda, CA (May), Noblesville, IN (May), Southbury, CT (May), Mira Loma, CA (May), Park Meadows, CO (May), Wareham, MA (June), Baton Rouge, LA (July), Allen, TX (July), Tukwila, WA (July), and New Orleans, LA (October).