Monday, January 3, 2011

Bye, Bye Borders?

As I'm sure some of you know, the future for Borders isn't looking so great in 2011. On December 30, they announced that they there are holding payments due to the publishers in the hope they can restructure their debt. Which has them inching closer and closer to Chapter 11, or worse, Chapter 7 bankruptcy. 

And if that's not bad enough, some publishers are already refusing to ship new stock to Borders out of fear of not receiving payment. However, it's being theorized that continuing to ship Borders new inventory is just delaying the inevitable. 

So what does this mean to the book business, to authors, to readers, and to publishers?

Some may think it doesn't meant anything. A lot of people buy their books off of amazon and other vendor sites. Some wave their Kindle or Nook high in the air and grin. Some probably could care less. 

But it does have an impact. A potentially big one. 

Borders sales make up for 10% of the publishing industry revenue. 10% may not sound like a lot, but if and when Border fails, that is 10% profit the publishing will lose overnight. This will force publishers to have to make decisions that may not want to, to avoid their own loss.

See article HERE for more in-depth info on this. Plus the dozens of other articles out there. 

If Borders goes out, then that leaves behind one big chain store in the US.  Yep, you got it. Barnes and Nobles (who is looking to buy Borders by the way). This could be a good thing for the independent bookstores.

There's a grass root operation starting up from several authors looking to create a charity collection of stories to save Borders. 

So what led to this? I have my own theories.  A lot of people will blame ebooks and leave it at that, but after some research (a form of procrastination), I've discovered its not just ebooks that are killing the brick and mortar chain book stores. (Even though there was a 300% increase in ebooks sales during holiday and a decline in trade sales)  It appears that big box stores (Walmart, Target, etc) and Amazon are slowly driving the brick and mortar under.

If Borders does go under in 2011, that's 676 fewer American bookstores. Which sucks.

So what do you think publishers should do? Continue shipping stock to Borders --- at a risk to them and their clients --- to help Borders keep the tip of their head above water? Or should publishers pull out completely and watch the boat sink under?


  1. Borders has been struggling for a number of years, even before eBooks really took over. Their last ditch effort was the Kobo, but they just haven't marketed it in the same way as B&N or Amazon have.

    I got to Borders quite frequently but compared to B&N their quantity of books has always been lacking. And for the past year, perhaps due to their financial troubles, their staff has been cut by more than half in most places.

    Their online store also has been dreadful - technology of their order forms, receiving merchandise, etc.

    For awhile now they have been fighting off bankruptcy. I'm not sure publishers should risk sending stock. It is sad that there will be one less store, but unless they rethink their marketing strategy they won't be able to compete.

    At the holidays the Borders near me was virtually deserted and they had more holiday items and videos than books.

  2. Wow, that's kinda depressing. I used to be a frequent Borders shopper, and typically went there over B&N or other brick and mortar establishments. But over the years I have tended to buy more from Amazon, simply because their selection is much more broad, and they always have what I'm looking for. I've had numerous occasions where I've stopped into my local Borders looking for some specific books, and completely struck out.

    It is unfortunate, but I think we are at the beginning of the downfall of brick and mortar 'specialty' stores. More and more people will be ordering online, and stores like Walmart and Target will be king.

    The times they are a'changin...

  3. This is beyond sad. I shop there almost everyday, any time I'm in the store it's packed. Traveling to other Borders and even Waldon's are always busy.

    Whether people are buying books, dvds, or music it always looks like they're drumming up good business. Plus Borders has it's foot in the door on online shopping for ebooks or hard copies.

    It seems hard to believe that Walmart, Target, or other chains could make that much of an impact. Border inventory and general discounts make it a better shopping place for all media needs.

    It makes me wonder if Borders downfall is sales, poor management, or something else all together.

  4. I have no idea what they should do but this is insanely sad. I hope borders pulls through (even though I'm not American!) because I've shopped there before when visiting America and it was a great experience

  5. I shop at borders, why...I like a place that's all books. Not where I can buy panties and books. It's right across the street from work...and I get awesome discount coupons in my email. I'd love to patronize more mom & pop stores but there aren't that many in Philly, and none that give such great deals. I know, I know but 'tis the truth.

  6. I went to a Borders in Suburban CT tonight. They had THREE employees working in a 2 story store. I walked around the 2nd floor for ten minutes looking for help finding a YA book (Unearthly) that was released Tuesday, yet not on the shelves. I finally made it to the checkout area and found someone to get the book from the store room for me. I also noticed a LOT more books on the sale tables than usual. Their financial issues seem to be already affecting the stores. It made me sad to see it.

    I really do think it's due to Amazon/Target/Walmart's cheap prices. But I'm guilty of buying most of my books from those exact stores. It's harder than ever to get people to pay full price in a bad economy.

  7. I don't understand this. This has got to be due to company management missteps and not some broader "bookstores are doomed" scenario. I used to shop at Borders (and B&N) quite often up until I moved four years ago. Now the nearest Borders is 30 miles away in an area that I don't head to often (and the nearest B&N isn't too much closer). I've ordered books online from all three (, and but prices there aren't all that much cheaper, especially when shipping charges are factored in. And I can't believe that Wal-Mart is cutting into bookstores' profits -- they have, at most, one 60-foot aisle dedicated to books and magazines, and all they sell are the latest pulp novels. I hope these big bookstores don't close down. I miss them; I really hate that there aren't any where I live now.