Borders books going down?

Dateline: Thu 06 Jan 2011

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/01/bye-bye-borders/68916/

Megan McArdle, writing in the Atlantic, above, where she is biz and economics editor, is speculating about the demise of Borders Books. Gasp. Well, not really -- if you've been paying attention.

She starts by quoting Kevin Drum of Mother Jones magazine: "Needless to say, I'll never shop at Borders online again," Kevin wrote. This, after he discovered that Borders apparently does not discount its online best-smellers, unlike Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

McArdle continues:

"A lot of people seem to have decided not to shop at Borders, lately.  The company's been struggling for years, as eBooks and Amazon cut into its market.  Unlike Barnes and Noble, the company never really successfully transitioned to digital, leaving it with a lot of physical inventory and real estate assets that are rapidly becoming albatrosses with declining sales"

Borders' financial freefall is no secret --  here's the info from Wiki: "At the end of 2010, Business Week and BBC News reported that Borders would be delaying its payments to publishers for inventory already received, in order to preserve liquidity. This was prompted by problems in refinancing its credit facilities. On January 3, 2011, Borders' stock had fallen below $1.00 per share."

But McArdle says that, although Borders is "desperately trying to renegotiate its debt," the rumors of stores telling employees to look for other work are out there.

The problem is fascinating, because when Borders first came to this town, it was the bomb; remember the Castleton store, where every weekend was almost a happening? This was the 1980s, and people lined up to hang out at Borders and buy books in the process.

It didn't take long, however, for Borders to become Big Brother. The big chain -- which is what it is, with roots  p.c. Ann Arbor, Mich. -- started to take the rap, perhaps rightly so, for pushing out some of the independent book-sellers. Now it's Borders that appears to be failing, in a scenario similar to Blockbuster's, which also never "got" the online impetus. Blockbuster loses out to Netflix (which also has to re-invent itself, soon) and Borders loses to Amazon.com

Perhaps Borders also hurt itself (according to McArdle's readers) by giving in to liberal posturing. It wasn't unusual to walk in a store and be bombarded with a display of anti-Bush or anti-Rush Limbaugh books. Let's say the store knew its audience, or thought it did.

But times change, and Borders didn't change with them.... Still, I hate to see the downtown store take a hit; that's some prime real estate, at Washington and Meridian. And, as always, it's always awful to contemplate job losses.

At the same time, it's nice to see the few independents in town stretch and taste some success.

 

 

Comments

Matt Stone [unverified] said:

There will be bookstores at least for the forseeable future. Music stores still sell vinyl. Hell, BEST BUY and FRY'S ELECTRONICS, not exactly known for being the places musical elitists shop at, even sell (a limited selection of) vinyl records. And every local record store I shop at still carry both used and new vinyl.

Similarly, bookstores that can find their audience can thrive in an age where everything is slowly going digital. Half Priced Books has thrived, and Big Hat Books moved into a bigger place in Broad Ripple a year or two after opening up.

But the days of the mass published books being purchased at Barnes and Noble or Borders are gone. Why would a Sarah Palin Mama Grizzly purchase it there when she could purchase it at Target (While getting groceries) for a few less bucks?

2011-01-06 22:19:07

hendy [Member] said:

Bookstores aren't dead. Bad business models are. Electronic books cut sales, and B&N has them. Borders pays for a lot of expensive mall and other square footage. They just closed in Bloomington, and the slide is here.

They'll CH11, shed debt and locations, and be back. Paper books aren't dead, but CEOs with no guts are.

2011-01-06 23:40:05

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Bookmama's in Irvington is a favorite haunt. I can't help but wonder if they make enough money to survive, but it's a fabulous store. They do programs and contribute vibrantly to the Irvington community. They are a true blessing.

I won't ever embrace Kindle or iPads. I love the feel of a real book. All my kids grew up around books, and they knew what was expected of them from the time they could walk.

A dear friend who died prematurely last month, willed me his entire library. We shared a love of books. We traded often. It is the single-most valued gift I've ever been given in my life. Apart from family discussions and movies, we talked about books more than anything else. For two decades.

My youngest--18--checks books in and out of my "library" constantly. He says he wants to go to law school and my library keeps him updated on history, politics and law. And it just doubled in size.

I'm so verklempt.

2011-01-07 11:31:55

bordersemployee [unverified] said:

"liberal posturing"? I worked the night that Mama Palin signed in Noblesville, as well as at the signing of Karl Rove. Borders is, most of all, about selling books and making $$. It might lean left of center in Ann Arbor, but Indiana stores know their customers. The only posturing that really counts is dollars in the register drawer.

2011-01-07 20:47:25

ruthholl [Member] said:

Well, good show, bordersemployee. Tnxs for correcting the record. Hello, Mama Palin. Welcome.

2011-01-07 21:32:06

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

If Sarah Palin wrote 10% of that book I'll eat it with salt and pepper.

I read every book about presidential campaigns, that I can get my hands on. I refused to give that woman a dime, so I got a copy at the Irvington library. It took four months on the wait list.

What a colossal waste of time. Airheads of the world unite.

Would-be authors whose new/first book I'm awaiting:

Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg (just to see that massive ego up-close), Bart Peterson, Rex Early, John McCain, Rahm Emmanuel, Tony Blair, Bill-Melinda Gates.

Latest reads that were yawners: both Bushes, Laura and George.

Biggest surprise: Ronald Reagan's diaries. I couldn't stand him as president, but I couldn't put that book down. Fascinating.

2011-01-08 05:41:54

sjudge [unverified] said:

The problem, locally, in losing Borders, is that it's been the only chain willing to stock 'local' books. It offered the individual store manager the ability to purchase and sell local books. Barnes & Noble simply won't do that - their model involves regional warehouses and minimum quantity orders. I was involved in the Meridian Kessler book and over the past five years, Borders has purchased about 500 copies at $10 under cover price. Barnes offered to buy 100 copies at $25 under the cost of publishing them (assuming we covered the cost of delivering to their regional warehouse).

2011-01-08 09:22:04

Jason [unverified] said:

The downtown Borders was a personal favorite for a while. It was hard to get to, for some reason you were banned from walking through the first floor breezeway, and their selection was random at best. Maybe it was the atmosphere.

Until we went there on a late winter afternoon and they were closed at 5.

2011-01-10 16:15:58

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