Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The State of Books

We've been following the unfolding story of Borders Books for the past several months now, and as noted last week, the retail giant has finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Additionally, they've announced the closing of 200 retail locations in the United States. Well, when the news came down, it started a bit of speculation as to which stores would close.

But, since we now have things like the Internet, that list managed to leak online not even an hour after the news broke, and any such rampant speculation was rendered pointless.

Ah, technology.

When I checked out that leaked list, I was surprised to find pretty much all of the Borders shops in my area on it, other than one store in my home city and another about 20 miles away, just over the state border.

As far as Borders go, my state was routed.

I knew things were going to be bad when I read about the Borders on Park Ave. closing, and about the closing of a store near my office whose rent is paid by another large retail chain in the area.

I thought for sure that store would be safe, because they didn't have to worry about things like rent.

But I guess even a store with (relative) minimal overhead couldn't earn out enough money in this weird publishing environment to avoid closure. For anyone wondering, you can check out the complete list of store closings, right here.

My big concern (aside from the fact that the number of bookstores in my state was just reduced by 70%) is, what happens next? Will the remaining 400 or so Borders stores stay in business, or will there be another round of closings?

Are they using these big, Final Days Sales things--which are generating lines of people outside their doors, by the way--to get some quick cash flow to pay down some of their debts, and then focus on further cut backs? Will Borders even be a viable option for publishers in the coming weeks and months?

And, since we're seeing these huge lines at Borders since the sales announcements were made, doesn't that tell book stores and publishers that, yes, people want books, but they don't want to pay upwards of $25 for new product?

Will that change the way we look at price points?

Obviously, I have no answers to any of the above. But to think that this is the last we'll hear of Borders' problems is naive.

So, how about you guys? How many stores in your area are getting the axe?


Scott said...


A look at what someone on the inside thinks, if you're curious about why Borders in particular is doing so badly.

AJG said...

This is a great read--thanks, Scott.

zharth said...

Looks like my go-to Borders is on that list. Might have to take a look and see if they're having one of these Final Days Sales thingys, if it's not too late.