Saturday, February 12, 2011

Borders and bankruptcy

The Wall Street Journal reports that Borders is headed for bankruptcy:

Borders Group Inc. is in the final stages of preparing a bankruptcy filing, clinching a long fall for a company with humble beginnings that helped change the way Americans buy books but failed to keep pace with the digital transformation rocking every corner of the media landscape.

The troubled Ann Arbor, Mich., bookseller could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy-protection as soon as Monday or Tuesday, paving the way for hundreds of store closings and thousands of job losses, said people familiar with the matter.
My recent visits to a local Borders have left me feeling embarrassed: fewer and fewer books worth buying, more and more trinkets, T-shirts, and empty space. (I get embarrassed in stores that are obviously struggling.) In the past thirty days, Borders has sent me twenty-two e-mails, hawking chocolate, coffee, flowers, the Kobo eReader, wine — oh, and books. It’s sad: everything the company has done to bring in more money seems to give the dedicated reader less reason to feel good about going to Borders.

Related posts
Borders Books and Music in trouble (2008)
Goodbye, Pages for All Ages

comments: 4

Koralatov said...

The few times I’ve been into a Borders store in the UK, I’ve felt much the same disconnection and disinterest. I go to a bookshop to buy books, not various and sundry trinkets. Sadly, though, this seems to be the way the chain bookshops are going — and with the increasing homogenisation of bookshops, ultimately all bookshops. In the town in which I live, there is only one non-chain bookshop now; the rest are either charity bookshops or Waterstone’s stores.

Richard Henderson said...

I grew up in Detroit - NOT a good bookstore town by the stretch of anyone's imagination. But driving 45 mins. west during the '70s would bring a starved bibliophile to Borders in Ann Arbor. There was only one store and it had three floors (!) of books.

I hadn't been back there for at least 20 years, stopped in after leaving the airport. Border's in Ann Arbor was now a dumpy single-floor entity, very much a chain outlet. Dreary. I'm guessing they'll get what they deserve, but I'd still enjoy a choice of book stores.

Anne said...

Oh, I loved Borders, 19 years ago when I first moved to Pittsburgh from San Francisco. It was the closest I could get to the kind of bookstores I'd left.

But I don't go either, anymore. Alas.

Adair said...

Sad. Borders helped take the US out of a bookstore-slump in the late 70's. Borders made serious books available again---you no longer needed to special order Ezra Pound or James Merrill, and they even stocked foreign language books. If anyone remembers the time just before Borders began appearing in major American cities, chain bookstores had reached one of their lowest points ever, with places like Walden Books selling more trinkets and paper-weights than books. (Walden's poetry section usually consisted of Rod McKuen, Kahil Gibran, Hugh Prather, and, oh yes, the verses of Leonard Nimoy.) The great chains like Brentanos had gone bankrupt. Now, it seems to be happening all over again. Barnes and Noble is also going in this direction---enormous amounts of store-space are devoted now to toys and Pilates mats.