BARNES, BORDERS PEN STRATEGIES

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The top two book superstores are authoring different marketing approaches for the holidays.

While Barnes & Noble is urging consumers to start and finish holiday shopping at its stores, Borders will tout gift certificates.

"It can be an intimidating, overwhelming process to search through the entire selection of books we have and choose something for someone else," said Patty Kerr, Borders' director of marketing.

Instead, Borders is trying to appeal to consumers' need for convenience by pushing gift certificates.

"We want to suggest that by giving someone a gift certificate, you are giving them not just the book but the experience," Ms. Kerr said.

Borders' holiday print campaign is running in USA Today. One ad created by Perich & Partners, Ann Arbor, Mich., is headlined "Wouldn't the world make a great gift?" and the tagline reads, "Find out. Borders."

The ads are based on consumer research that shows most shoppers don't just go to Borders to buy books, they go to spend time, explore and discover.

"People go out to dinner, maybe a movie and then spend some time at a Borders," Ms. Kerr said. "It's really almost entertainment."

Barnes & Noble will approach the holidays more traditionally, pushing its large selection of books as gifts.

The holiday ads started Nov. 15 in newspapers. One ad from Farago, New York, says, "Start your shopping at Barnes & Noble, and you just might finish your shopping at Barnes & Noble."

Bookstores have several hot-selling books to push this holiday season. Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates is expected to rock the world this holiday with his $29.95 "The Road Ahead," backed by Penguin's $1 million ad campaign, created in-house.

Shock jock Howard Stern's "Miss America" (Regan Books, $27.50) will continue to be a hot seller.

Some other top sellers for this season: Colin Powell's "My American Journey" (Random House, $27.50); "Charles Kuralt's America" (Putnam, $24.95); "The Hundred Secret Senses" by Amy Tan (Putnam, $23.95); and "A Civil Action" by Jonathan Harr (Random House, $25).

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