Bye Bye Borders
Posted on July 18, 2011 Posted by John Scalzi 79 Comments
This is not terribly unexpected but still not good news:
There will be no storybook ending for Borders. The 40-year old book seller could start liquidating its 399 remaining stores as early as Friday.
The chain, which helped pioneer the big-box bookseller concept, is seeking court approval to liquidate its stores after it failed to receive any bids that would keep it in business… Liquidation sales could start as soon as Friday if the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York approves the move at a scheduled hearing on Thursday. The company is expected to go out of business by the end of September.
It’s not good news for the obvious reason: One less place for authors to sell books — well, 399 fewer places, as that is the number of remaining Borders stores at the moment. Our jobs just got that much harder. There are other less obvious reasons as well, but the obvious one is bad enough.
Yeah, on the one hand it’s great for lil’ local booksellers but on the other it’s not great for the larger realm of book sellers and authors.
I’ve never felt more like Tony Soprano.
Also sucks for many small towns that never had a sizable bookstore before (though those were disproportionately the Borders that already closed).
Anyone know why BN is still going strong and Borders is tanking? What’s the major difference between the two?
Also, what’s the better option: Shopping at a big box in my neighborhood, or shopping at an independent online? (The independents in my area unfortunately don’t stock stuff I want to read. )
The “recovery” continues.
Wow, like you said, not unexpected but definitely sucks. One Borders had remained open near me, and it was the only book store around (unless you count the one in the nearby outlet mall, which seems to be more of a surplus store than anything as they never have anything new or popular and never know what they have). There is a B&N a little ways further off in a major mall, but I’ve always liked the atmosphere of Borders better. And brick and mortar in general for books, really. For some reason, books are one thing I just don’t much care to purchase online.
If there is any silver lining to this, hopefully the vacancies created by Borders’ going under will make room for some independent bookstores to return or open anew in some of these areas they’ve been absent from lately, though obviously not holding my breath in this economy.
Jess @ #3:
To speculate, it’s at least partly because they were so late in getting an e-reader to market. I’d wager that they were behind on sales over the Internet as well.
As I understand it, B&N is being kept afloat by sales of the Nook (and the e-books that go with it). They came late to the game, but they were still there (and with a better product) long before Borders.
@Jess: Basically comes down to Borders’ supply chain management going from being state of the art in the 1990s to, well, 1990s tech in the 2000s. Combine that with about a half dozen CEOs with different ideas of how to run the company in the last ten years and you have a company that’s not going to stay afloat very long. If you google about you can find some really good articles written by people in the industry (particularly a few fellow ex-Borderites with a lot more inside knowledge than I had) with more solid details.
I’m sad to see them go (having been an employee for a bit over five years), but not at all surprised, and honestly it’s probably better this way (rather than being sold to someone who has even less an idea how to run a bookstore than the current management). I’ll fondly remember the end of the Bookseller-focused company (back around 2003), and look forward to whomever steps forward to fill the void (and that someone will undoubtedly be e-reader focused). Regardless of B&N’s success with the Nook, I don’t expect them to exist indefinitely as brick and mortar stores (or at least in the current size and form); realistically they’re going to go the direction of Tower/Coconuts/etc. soon enough, for better or for worse [soon enough may be 30 years down the line, but very likely in my lifetime]. Technology evolves and all that, and Borders did not – hence the end.
And I can’t enjoy clearance sales where the employess are losing their jobs, so I don’t even get that benefit.
Borders made some monumentally bad management decisions, not the least of which was to outsource their online business to their competitor Amazon. Then there was the strange out-of-touchness with media tech–dedicating a ton of floor space to physical CDs and movies when the CD business was already losing ground to the emerging digital market. (“I say, kids these days are listening to their music on those eight-track tapes. We should stock some of those.”) Add to that their ass-backwards and slow, inefficient inventory and restocking system (a custom bar code sticker on EVERY SINGLE BOOK? Really?), and it was really only a question of when, not if, they would get their clocks cleaned by Amazon and their other competitors.
Shame, though. if there’s one thing this country doesn’t need less of right now, it’s places to buy books.
I’m one of the reasons they closed. I read voraciously, but for the last few years I have shopped online. I buy ebooks if I can and if I can’t, try to find a used book. OR, I just read free ebooks. I also spend a lot of time making free ebooks at Distributed Proofreaders.
Not to mention the 11,000 employees who just lost their jobs. http://paidcontent.org/article/419-bye-bye-borders-chain-shuttering-all-remaining-stores/
For A Different Jess, here’s an article from February that speculates as to why Borders was failing and Barnes & Noble wasn’t.
@various responders to Jess: While Borders’ precipitous decline may be in small part due to e-Readers, both taking sales away and not adding sales, I don’t believe most insiders put much weight there as opposed to traditional retail problems (specifically with supply chain management, and over-reorganizing). E-book sales just aren’t that high a percentage of sales even now for books, and Borders has been essentially bankrupt for years – as far back as 2007 there was some speculation they would enter bankruptcy, and in 2008 it became obvious, right after the credit crash. That’s well before the Nook was relevant.
The best full explanation I’ve seen is from Mark Evans, who I knew by name (but not personally) while at Borders myself… it’s explained here:
He goes into a ton of detail, and has some personal opinions that may or may not be accurate (and some I agree with more than others), but are better informed and probably more accurate than you’ll find from anyone else out there.
Damn … we have three Borders Books in San Antonio, two of which jump — as they are located in very popular shopping venues along with movie theaters. They were spared from the last rounds, because they were still making good profits. And I had a signing at one of them last month and did very well, too. I was looking forward to a big Christmas event bash. The managers were sooo much easier to work with than Barnes & Noble, too – Borders was much more welcoming to local indy authors.
Damn, damn, damn.
I don’t think it’ll help the small booksellers at all.
In my personal experience, every bookstore that isn’t a Barnes & Nobel has fallen short of my expectations. People seem to love the Boulder Bookstore for example, but its science fiction and fantasy section is pitiful. Two small-town book stores I have stopped at while traveling didn’t carry any new issue hard covers and almost their entire inventory of new books was romance. Another Colorado favorite is the Tattered Cover. This one is okay, but its size makes it a mega-store just like B&N.
I think the only advantage a small book store could have is personal service, but Amazon seems to provide recommendations and preorders that are so good I don’t see how a small store could compete. MAYBE if they were willing to violate lay-down dates for me…
Anyway, I think the loss of Borders is just going to reduce the number of decent bookstores without any advantages.
I met the man who became my husband when we both worked at Borders in 1993. This was before Borders became A Big Chain Store, when there were only one or two stores outside Ann Arbor.
He stayed on with them till earlier this years (20 years). I was just a Christmas temp. That was back in the day when you actually had to pass a quiz on BOOKS to work at the store, even as supplemental Christmas help.
Husband left this past spring, so at least he’s spared going down with the ship.
RIP Borders. In your day, you were one of the best. And thank you for my husband. :)
I used to go to the Tattered Cover when I lived in Denver, in many ways I think it inspired B&N, etc.
Our little town has a great small bookstore, when it opened my last reason to go to the city went away. If they don’t have what I’m looking for on the shelves, they order it for me and I get it in a few days. I get a lot of book recommendations for mScalzi’s Big Idea columns, among others, but I buy local, I want this little book store to stay in business.
I have always preferred Borders to B+N whenever it came down to a choice between the big two. Better selection, better service, better atmosphere (or at least those are true for me at the stores I’ve been to). Would prefer to deal with independents but, there are so few left and they never seem to be even vaguely convenient to where I’m at so…. Borders gets my money (or, they have been…). Dunno what I’ll do now. Ordering from Amazon is okay for stuff I KNOW I want but, what I like about a brick and mortar location is being able to wander around and have something catch my eye (an interesting title perhaps, cover art, author’s name… something…) and, more often than not, I end up with a random book find that becomes one of the gems in my collection. Kinda hard to do that sort of browsing online… =/
the boarders in newark went out of business almost a year ago. now we have no book store at all.
capitalism, she is a messy creature
This is not good at all. Is there any chance that Barnes & Noble and/or Books A Million might take over some of the Borders stores instead of closing them down?
As a worker at Books-a-Million, maybe they will take over some of the stores. They have been actively expanding from southern area bookstore only up and over to work on nationwide. This will probably help them in the short run, for expanding their empire.
Maybe it’s a regional thing, but I never particularly liked the Borders here in New England. The layout was peculiar, the selection (especially SF and fantasy) was awful, and the non-fiction choices weren’t great, either. Even worse, the one near me was almost possible find, and close enough to a popular Barnes & Noble that I really wonder if the person who chose the site was drunk.
Most damning of all:
I went to the aforesaid hard to find Borders during the big liquidation sale last spring. I found exactly ONE book to buy. ONE. And it was a replacement for a book I’d loved and read to death.
Quite the mess.
you mean I have to slum it at the Barnes and Noble now?
I always preferred Borders to B&N because of the selection at Borders was better, but with the rise of the internet and Amazon, that competitive edge wasn’t as big a deal anymore. Selection is my number one, two, and three criteria for a bookstore, and as Borders desperately searched for a way out, their selection slowly became less interesting. It’s a shame, because the only bookstore in my town is a Borders (or rather, I suppose I should begin to say “was a Borders.”) The nearest decent independents are 30 minute drives away, and while once upon a time, I would have gladly made the pilgrimage several times a month, now, between owning a Kindle and Amazon delivering to my door in two days, I’m very unlikely to.
Honestly, though, the two bookstores that consistently made me the happiest were Amazon and Powell’s. When I get interested in something, I like to do a deep dive in the topic, and those two were where I could regularly find lots of interesting and obscure books on a topic.
I worked at Borders for about three years. I’m sad to see them go, but not entirely surprised.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I always found Borders significantly more expensive than B&N. This was especially true with the member discount. I think you can site any number of mismanagement steps, but the bottom line the bottom line. People voted with their dollars an B&N won. Silly capitalism.
Sorry to see them go. I’ve always preferred them to B&N. My whole family and friends attended their last midnight Harry Potter book release party – great memories! Best of luck to all soon to be former employees…
The other problem is that the owners of the locations that had borders might not want another book store there as they will believe that books is a dead end industry. I hope not, as the one in silver spring was the second most profitable borders in the chain (per sq ft).
I’m really going to miss it (and it was a factor in buying a house near downtown. Walking to a bookstore. What could be better?
Personally, I’ve always preferred B&N (if I have to go to a brick-and-mortar store; these days I vastly prefer Amazon). Hubby, however, is firmly convinced Borders had a better history section than B&N, so he’s crushed.
No, not unexpected, but it sure does make me sad. I’ve given them many happy years of business. Borders was where I first attended a book release celebration. I believe it was for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. (Which is possibly my favorite of the HP series.) When my daughter was little I brought her to their kids’ story time every week. Our Borders always seemed to me to be much more personable than BN and the employees where always helpful.
I can’t speak for their whole business plan, but from a consumer standpoint one difference always seemed to be that Borders had standalone shops whereas BN tend to be in large shopping malls. I happened to like this difference, but I’m sure it meant less traffic for Borders and in an already challenging and changing business every bit can make a difference.
Both stores charge cover price for most anything that isn’t a new hardcover, and have commensurate discounts in my experience (usually 20-40 percent off bestsellers in new release). In my experience, though, Borders offered MUCH better coupons (up to 40 percent off weekly) and a free rewards program, versus B&N’s $25/year membership offering 10 percent off, with coupons over 15 percent very rare.
Borders also has perpetual “BOGO 50 percent off” promotions that are hit or miss at B&N.
I’d like to see independent bookstores fill the void, but doubt it will happen. Bookstores are a moribund part of a dying culture: contemplative, community-oriented, literate and literary, slow-paced.
I feel very fortunate to live in a part of the country where independent bookstores not only exist but seem to be thriving. I have bought some books on-line, but prefer to go to “real” bookstores – for the same reason I’m a holdout against e-readers. I love the tactile experience of rummaging through the shelves, wandering around checking out sections I rarely visit, leafing through coffee table books and such. I love holding a book in my hands: the weight and scent of it; riffling back through pages to reread a passage, a really wonderful line of dialog, or to check on a plot point.
As a matter of general priniciple, it’s also becoming more important to me to shop at real stores, locally, because the rise of on-line commerce has meant plummeting tax revenues for cities and states just as the general economic collapse has hit them so hard.
“One less place for authors to sell books — well, 399 fewer places, as that is the number of remaining Borders stores at the moment.”
Well, yes. But.
Presumably a large contributing factor is that not enough books were actually getting sold there. Because not enough people were actually buying them there. Because people that buy books were buying them somewhere else, and will continue to do so. Those that *were* buying at Borders will now also buy at the somewhere elses, and the somewhere elses will now do better.
In other words, isn’t this better regarded as a result stemming from fewer people buying books, rather than an event that will cause them to do so?
Hands up, those of you here who used to regularly buy books at Borders and will now *stop buying books entirely*. Anyone? Bueller?
I dunno. 399 extra bookstores is great if those the bookstores available to you actually stock different things and have staff that know a damn thing about books. My general impression of B&N and Borders and (activate Canada) Chapters/Indigo (deactivate Canada) is that exactly none of them fits those criteria. I buy books at Amazon, and I buy more books there than I would ever have done from a brick and mortar store, because Amazon is cheaper, Amazon has a better selection, and online Amazon reviews are more informative than the staff at Chapters.
Was Borders a chain that writers trying to break into the market counted on to stock titles by unestablished authors? Was the selection at Borders really so different from B&N/Amazon/Waldenbooks/whatever? Given the ease of finding your books online, really how much harder does this make it for people to buy the books they want, or for authors to sell them?
That’s not meant to be snark — I’m genuinely interested to see the reasons elaborated upon, if there are some. For my part, if *my* local big-box bookstore were carried away by Terrifying Space Monkeys, I wouldn’t miss it.
11000 more jobs lost does indeed suck, though.
Within ten miles of me are several good bookstores; two dealing in new books and the rest in used books. *All* of them are independent, all of them are hurting somewhat but (last I heard) not yet desperate. One of the bookstores is set up to sell ebooks via Google Books (and wow have they made some money off of me with that).
I consider myself very fortunate.
I agree with Zan Lynx. I want to support independents, but so often they don’t have the book I go in looking for. You can order anything online via the Boulder Bookstore and get free shipping to the store, and that’s a plus (but good luck finding parking). They do a great job finding out of print stuff for you too. However, though the lit fic section is great, and the staff recs can be good (though sometimes a little book-clubby and predictable), the poetry section is very thin, and so is science fiction. B&N is much better for that. B&N is just as good for browsing, and Borders had a competitive lit fic section, surprisingly. What’s awful about B&N and was awful about Borders was that neither one has seemed to have staff that has known anything about books or music. That’s the difference with the Tattered Cover and Boulder Bookstore, for the most part. Off the Beaten Path, in Steamboat Springs, is another great indie, though small. Epilogue, I guess, has closed, unfortunately. That was more literary. And there is the Explore Bookstore in Aspen as well…that’s terrific. Also Back of Beyond in Moab, UT. So all is not lost, yet.
@35 Borders problems have more to do with mismanagement than slipping sales. Many/most of the stores that survived the first round of closings were performing quite well. The Borders I frequent is always busy, particularly around the holidays.
But bookselling is a business with very thin margins, and they made a lot of bad bets — outsourcing their web presence, waiting too long to get into the eReader game, devoting too much floorspace to music and DVDs even as those markets were shrinking.
That people in general are buying fewer paper books is only one factor in the chain’s demise, and should not have been an insurmountable one.
Reportedly from NPR, Kindle downloads are exceeding both hard and paperback sales 2:1.
399 stores filled with mostly-returnable product and owing ~$200 million to the Big Seven publishers spells big trouble for the publishing industry and for authors. Kiss your reserve against returns goodbye. The publishers that survive (and some won’t) will have to be more cautious. Shorter terms with retailers, book contracts with deadline clauses and penalties that actually get enforced. Fewer risks taken, fewer books published, less offered for what’s bought.
When Chapters, Canada’s big chain at the time, returned nearly half of their product to publishers in 2000 (estimated to be $20-$30M in stock), a couple of years after their big launch, when they no longer needed to stock one of everything or to deeply stock best-sellers, it nearly killed the Canadian publishing industry. Analysts still scratch their heads as to how many of those publishers survived, even with the support that Canadian publishers get from the government.
US publishers don’t get that kind of help, and you can bet that they won’t get the same kind of ‘too big to fail’ treatment as banks and car companies. This is just the beginning.
We had 4 Borders in San Francisco, after the big round of closures we had 1. Now we’re going to have none. I started writing down all the book stores that have closed in the city recently and I got up to 21 that I know about, soon to be 22. They are dropping like crazy. I still miss Staceys. As long as Borderlands, Kayo, Green Apple and Books Inc stay open, they all fill different needs, I’m in good shape but man, things aren’t looking good long term.
Borders Australia/New Zealand just shut down the last of its stores, and they took a couple of local chains (Angus and Robertson in Australia, Whitcoulls in NZ) with them. I think they had already been detached from Borders USA for a good couple of years because the writing was already on the wall.
We don’t have Barnes and Noble, Chapters, or any of the other big chains in Australia. Nor do we have our own Amazon (although the falling US dollar has seen Amazon’s popularity surge down here).
Senator Nick Sherry, the Minister for Small Business, reckons there will be no more general bookstores in Australia in five years’ time.
Great timing! I just got my periodic members-email from Borders (just hours after their liquidation announcement) with a coupon as well as lots of ads urging me to upgrade to a higher-level paid membership and to purchase their ebook system. I think maybe that wouldn’t be the best purchase decision now.
I’m very sad. There will very soon be no bookstores at all (except for one small Christian niche bookstore) within any reasonable distance. I like paper books. And I love browsing. Probably half the books I buy are decisions made by exploring and browsing shelves, and often sitting in a comfy couch and thumbing through and reading part before buying … things that are not as easy or as satisfying online.
Something rarely mentioned – one type of book in particular that is still almost impossible to “discover” in any place other than a brick-and-mortar store is photo or picture books. No online store gives even a remotely passable experience to find these or buy on anything other than blind hope that you’ll like them; and certainly these types of books are not suitable as an ebook.
The library is still left, but that too (the local one anyway) is also not that great. And they don’t sell their inventory if you want to take home your find and not have to return it.
Oh well, at least we still have incandescent light bulbs and the space shuttle….
Senator Nick Sherry, the Minister for Small Business, reckons there will be no more general bookstores in Australia in five years’ time.
I hope Senator Sherry knows WTF he’s talking where Australia is concerned, but in New Zealand it’s one of the more welcome ironies that indie booksellers are actually doing reasonably well. What do we learn from this: Small retailers have to do the basics right. Know your customers and market; stock accordingly; form close and healthy relationships with your suppliers (and pay your fraking bills on time); and my personal bug-bear – hire staff who know their stuff and don’t treat customers like steaming fresh turds on legs.
@Craig I don’t think Senator Sherry is much of a reader.
He does say that he thinks only niche bookstores will remain. From what I have seen, the specialty bookstores are mostly doing okay down here. A friend of mine runs an SF&F store here, and he’s build a large and ferociously loyal following over the last year or two. Readings, an independent book chain, has been going from strength to strength.
I will say that books are EXTREMELY expensive in Australia. I don’t think there are many places in the world that pays as much for books as we do. But that is a whole other kettle of worms…
Dang. Wonder what (if anything) a Borders gift card is still worth … Should one:
A. Try to spend it at whatever liquidation/GOoB event may ensue
B. Retain it in the hope that it becomes a collector item
C. Just chuck it altogether? 
Sic transit gloria etc. IMHO, Borders was great while they lasted.
 Most likely it’ll end up commiserating with the SGI stock certificate (one kiloshare, non-voting).
A friend of mine runs an SF&F store here, and he’s build a large and ferociously loyal following over the last year or two.
Oh, I’d believe that. I get to Sydney and Melbourne once a year(-ish). Galaxy and Minotaur have been responsible for serious overdraft abuse. Damn them. :)
Seriously? There are still people buying dead trees? How quaint…
What’s really sad is I am mostly upset that I will now lose my morning latte source, the Borders Cafe makes a much better caramel latte than the Starbucks across the street from it.
Unfortunately, the last time I tried to buy a book at an independent bookstore (A Scalzi title!) they didn’t have it, and when I asked them to order it for me (explicitly telling them I was trying to give a local business my money instead of B&N or Amazon) they treated me like it was more trouble than it was worth. They’re gone now.
I buy books at Amazon, and I buy more books there than I would ever have done from a brick and mortar store, because Amazon is cheaper, Amazon has a better selection, and online Amazon reviews are more informative than the staff at Chapters.
This is true for me as well, and while the first two reasons are obvious, I never realized until reading this that the last one is probably the most important of all. Nobody in a big-box store knows squat.
Thorsten @48: Um, yes. Seriously. The supposed dominance of ebooks over print is vastly overstated, IMHO. We may very well be headed in that direction, but we’re far from there yet.
After the one closes in Downtown Crossing in Boston, the only major bookstore left in the whole city will be the Barnes and Noble in the Prudential Center. So sad for a city that’s supposed ot be a learning institution.
I learned to take the “e-books outselling paper books on Amazon” statement with a healthy pinch of salt when I read that Amazon also counts all the free Kindle downloads as “sales”. Someone buying three Kindle books and then downloading twenty free public domain classics will add 23 e-book sales to the total and tilt the stats a bit, which–while technically true–is slightly misleading.
So the big box kills the mom & pop shops & then kills itself. The end result is no book stores. Given the start up costs I doubt there will be a rebirth of the small independent outlets. If there are they will either be heavy on the Koontz and Spencer (think airport bookstore) or porn, something has to paid the rent. We have one small SiFi store here in a metro area of more than a million people. The one really successful independent got driven out by prudes because he sold ‘adult’ stuff in the back, his competitors that did not all died.
While I can still get what I want online I miss being able to wander around skimming things I have never heard of & finding the occasional gem.
I’ll miss Borders…I would buy a coffee and a book there at least every other week. But, usually one book at a time with a 33-40 percent discount. Not sure how the accounting works if many shopped like I.
Unfortunately, I’m not close to a small bookstore, and I won’t drive a ways to spend time hunting for a parking space unless I’m away on vacation.
I wouldn’t even call that “technically” true. Getting something for free isn’t a purchase.
Looks like Barnes and Noble is going to basically have a monopoly on national retail book sales. I don’t think there is anyone else. I think Waldenbooks was bougth by borders right? So they are gone too.
to be fair, I was in Borders on Sunday. They do not discount their non-new release hard cover books. They sell them for the cover price. A book that sells for $18 at B&N was $30 at Borders. No wonder they are going out of business. Also, it looks like B&N was smarter about picking locations.
Well…you know. When Borders first opened up in Philly, it was a Big Deal. It was like the king of all bookstores, back in the early 1990s. I still gave the lion’s share of my business to a local place, but sometimes Border’s had good prices or better selection. But that didn’t last. IME, Borders was always more expensive than B&N, whose flat member discount and regular 15-25% bonus coupons that arrived via mail or e-mail well exceed Borders convoluted discount system. Perhaps Borders was their equal, but it required me to do more as a customer, so they lost my business.
I recently revisited the local bookstore I used to frequent (I’m no longer in the same state). He was thrilled to hear of Borders potential demise. Said he to me: “When I first started in this business, there were 12 bookstores in the area, 12 different voices. We stocked different stuff and referred customers to each other for what we didn’t have. We shared the area but were far enough apart not to harm each other’s business. We could afford to specialize. I had the best sci-fi selection, but they had more romance books or mysteries. Then Borders came and one by one they disappeared. Now I’m the only one left. 11 voices were silenced and they won’t be back. Good Riddance.”
His bookstore has survived by diversification. He sells comics, fiction, games, occult memorabilia, school books, jewelry and collectibles. Whenever one market is weak, the others carry him through. But he’s the only non-big box bookstore in the area now and he blames Borders directly.
I can’t say I am surprised, mis-managment plus shrinking market = chapter 11
the business model of large brick/mortar book/cd/dvd/coffee store doesn’t look like it supports multiple players- is the niche smaller than borders+B&N? (apparently so)
I am looking forward to the next step in the evolution of book sellers- will comic book shops expand to sell more books? will starbucks sell more books in addition to thier cd offerings? will indies proliferate like mushrooms after a rainy season? (I hope so)
add to the mix the increasing # of publishers selling stuff directly (P&S in the UK, Baen, Night shade, Subterranean Press in the USA etc.)
my non expert opinions:
Books a’ Million will add coffee/some other food/beverage service to promote more browsing/ compete more directly w/ B&N (or they are next for the chopping block)
mass market books will become a less viable revenue source for anyone indie booksellers – look for indies to offer more and more collectable/niche market editions, comics, magna, art, or combine business with other local businesses (how cool would it be if old/small town theatres ran art films/ did readings/ book signing events ?)
who will be the next player in mass market books? – Target stores and to a lesser extent Wall Mart/ Meijer have been expanding thier media sections Books/ video games/ DVD/ Music (and at Target s in my area coffee) – will we start to see publisher sponsored events book signings at Target in the near future?
@43 Agreed now is not a good time to buy a Borders membership, but the Kobo will not be going down with the chain. Unlike the Nook, Borders is only a part owner of Kobo (Chapters, the Canadian chain, is majority owner) and for the past couple months ebook purchasing at Borders has gone directly to Kobo.
Thorsten @48, hugh57 @51: Thanks to a wedding gift earlier this year, I’ve become an ebook convert. But ebooks can never completely replace the print experience for me. There’s something magical about going to a bookstore and browsing its shelves, and about discovering a book by flipping through the first chapter or so. Borders was my second-favorite bookstore for this kind of browsing*, and I’m sad to see it go. Buying ebooks over the Internet is definitely more convenient, but I’ll be very sad if this ever becomes the only option.
*The first, of course, being Powell’s City of Books in downtown Portland, but that’s not an option for me anymore, having moved away form the Northwest.
@52 I’m lucky enough to live near Brookline Booksmith, a fantastic indy store. There’s also Porter Square Books and the Harvard Bookstore*. That BN is probably the only one left in downtown proper, though.
*Not affiliated with the university at all, just located in Harvard Square. They also have one of the Espresso Book Machine print on demand gizmos. It’s fun watching it in action…
I don’t feel too bad about this because I get all of my books online now, and mainly in eBook format. It’s just a matter of price and convenience, and traditional bookstores lose on both counts. I’m more curious about where libraries are headed.
What I just realized really suck is that with closing of the Borders in Downtown Crossing, there are now no longer any bookstores anywhere along my direct path between work and home. Quite depressing.
The only part that makes me sad is that 11,000 people just got hosed. As someone who is finally working again after hitting 99er status, I know exactly what a rough rocky road they’re facing. I hope they are all able to find some kind of work, somewhere.
that sucks. I am more of a BN person, but going under completely still sucks.
If they had to close, they weren’t selling that many authors’ books anyway.
I’ve ranted extensively on Borders’ decline before; this is just an example. There’s no lack of reasons or people to blame about what they did wrong; the link says it pretty well.
Borders going under is the best thing to happen to B&N. A friend who works at a B&N one block from Borders Westgate says their business dropped to near-zero when the closure sale started, then went up to the best they’d had in quite some time. But IMHO it’s only a respite; B&N doesn’t have any of the features I used to love about Borders and their web site isn’t as useful as Amazons.
The really sad thing is the number of small, specialty stores that went under as Borders and B&N starting competing so hard on price. I could name a half-dozen just in Ann Arbor, it’s probably just as bad in any other medium to large sized town.
Alas, Borders, I knew ye well.
Dang nabbit!!! I liked going into Borders or B&N and browsing around, even though I am an Amazon junkie as well. I still have a B&N in my area, but it was nice to have options. Besides those two and ordering from Amazon, in my area there is one independent bookstore that I try to check out from time to time. Problem is that this indie store has an absolutely abysmal selection for sci-fi (not crappy titles, just not much variety). Seriously, the last time I went they had maybe 12-20 sci-fi novels by 4-5 different authors all stuffed down on a bottom shelf as if the store was ashamed of these few siffy books. So as a primarily science fiction book dude, I find it hard to buy as much from this place.
Anyways, besides that indie bookstore, my burb-land paradise has one comic book store, a B&N, and Borders for a few weeks or months longer I suppose. I always thought it would be fun to open a sci-fi/fantasy/comic book centric small book store. But in this day and age, to even remotely have something like this stay afloat, as some of you have mentioned, you’d have to have all the airport novels, porn, and probably a cafe (which then means you are competing with Starbucks and Caribou Coffee). Too many balls to juggle I’d say. I do think it would be great if a some small independent booksellers were to sprout up around the country after all of the Borders stores are shuttered for good. I know that probably won’t happen though. The future looks to be Kindle, Nook, and the iPad/iPhone ebook model.
Steve @68, your link isn’t working.
As for closure sales, those are generally false bargains, especially in the early going.
I have both a large Borders and B&N near me. The Borders is walking distance from a movie theater, and was a nice place to kill time before a show. The B&N, ironically, used to be a nice place to wait before seeing a movie, until the movie theater closed and moved next to the Borders.
My area is lucky in that there are a few surviving independent booksellers here and there, if you know where to look. Even a pretty good sci-fi shop. The problem is knowing where to look. Most of the indy ones I know of are in urban areas, places where suburbanites won’t go exploring. That’s where B&N and Borders were valuable – they brought new books out to the suburbs and exurbs, within easy drives of people. Are there any good indy bookstores that aren’t deep into urban areas like Chicago?
The problem now is will people think all bookstores are gone, if Borders is going and B&N eventually follows? There aren’t many sizable chains left at all, maybe Books-A-Million, Half Price and B&N.
Borders in the UK went under in 2009 and I still miss my local store. Sad to see the US company fail is well.
I read that B&N was also looking for a seller earlier this year. I guess I again question the whole ebook thing and its effect on…well, talented authors. Ebooks seem to be selling for the same or higer price than paperbacks. For a while they were less and I have to admit I relished that fact. Now I see an avalanche of cheap ebooks that many people will buy for a cheap read, damn the true quality of the prose. So is it really a benefit to support the move to eformat?
I will mourn the end of Borders as well. In the DC area, Borders usually had a better SF/fantasy section than any B&N. Right now, your best DC bet for new SF/F is the B&N in Bethesda Row. Right now, I live in Arlington (VA) and the nearby B&N has a nominal section.
I had no idea that Minneapolis/Saint Paul having two dedicated Science Fiction bookstores, DreamHaven Books, and Uncle Hugos, was such a rare event. We have a few good comic shops as well.
I grew up near Ann Arbor and I remember when Borders was a mom and pop bookstore hanging out on State Street before there was even a reason to number it ‘Store 1’. It had a really diverse and esoteric selection of books and I’ve always shopped at Borders over Barns & Nobel out of loyalty for the small time book store that could. That said, these past 5-10 years it seems like every time I go in with a list of books I want to buy they have none of them. I feel sad for the out of work employees and a touch melancholy that I will no longer be able to walk to the bookstore during my lunch hour but as a huge bookstore chain they really have fallen from their heyday of awesome.
With the local Borders closing, that brings the total of local bookstores to… um… zero. For a municipality of well over 100,000.
That is not okay.
I’m certainly not surprised, but the problem isn’t ebooks. For at least the last 3 years, it has been impossible to get Borders to honor their pre-orders. New Scalzi book about to come out? Great! Put in an order, go to pick it up, and find they have no idea it has been released. Same problem for Bujold: “Sorry, ma’am, our system shows that won’t hit the street for another 10 days.” So I walk over to the shelf & find copies that _should_ be behind the counter waiting for pick-up. This, while fans on the authors’ blogs or discussion lists are squeeing in delight at the arrival of their Amazon-ordered copies. And then, when I get a phone call 2 weeks later, warning me that if I don’t come pick up my copy IMMEDIATELY, it will go back out onto the floor, they wonder why I’m annoyed? I try to support brick & mortar, but Borders killed all the independents & small chains around here & now we will be left with nothing. There are 400,000 people in this county, and except for a few hotel lobby type newstands, and some religious specialty bookstores, we’re screwed.
I’m actually sad to see Borders go. They were the only major bookstore for 50 miles where I live out here in South Dakota. Rapid City had a Borders. Now we will see an empty building flanked by a “Someone’s in the Kitchen” and an Applebees. Maybe Applebees can use the parking while that lot sits vacant…
There is a small second-hand bookstore in my home town. Its only second-hand though. And I kinda cringe at that thought. Either people are going to be ordering from Amazon a lot more and then selling off the gently used books to that store… or that store will end up folding as well, because the main source of new books that eventually end up there is gone.
Or I can cross my fingers and hope that B&N moves into that spot… even though B&N has a horrendous Mythology selection, and their occult section is worse than Borders ever was — even on a bad day. Yeah. I’m not entirely thrilled with B&N being the only one left. Never really liked their stores much. Even though I’ve been to the one on 16th Street in Denver a few times while waiting on a Rockies game.
This is just a repeat of the software publishing retail store contraction in the 1990s. Stores that were dedicated to shrink-wrapped software became hardware and software stores, and then the big chains started closing stores (Babbages, Egghead, CompUSA, Circuit City) and the number of retail stores went down, and so did the ability of the smaller publishers to get “shelf” space. The software industry is still alive and well, but now software distribution is in the cloud. Book publishing is going to change. People still like printed books, but how we get them will be different. Coupled with libraries having difficulty staying open due to waning financial support, and you the trend is visible.