After struggling to survive Chapter 11 bankruptcy since February, Borders officially announced they would be closing the doors on their remaining 399 stores by September.
At the height of their success in the early 90s, they had more than 1,500 stores across the country. Despite competition with Barnes and Noble, Borders was a successful bookstore giant. Then as electronic E-readers and online publications grew in popularity, Borders began to have problems.
A number of their stores began to close as they fell behind in popularity. In 2010 they teamed up with the company that owns the Kobo E-reader and started selling it in their stores in an attempt to stay afloat. But it was still not as popular as other similar products, such as Barnes and Noble’s Nook or Amazon.com’s Kindle.
Finally, in February of this year, Borders declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy and put their remaining stores up for sale in an attempt to keep the franchise alive. They did receive an offer from the owner of the Book of the Month Club, a book club that offers its members discounts on popular books, but the creditors for their bankruptcy refused the terms of the sale because they would not have received compensation for Borders’ liquidation.
That decision has led to the selling of Borders’ remaining assets. All of the remaining stores are having going out of business sales from now until September. Many of the coffee shops located within Borders have already closed up shop, leaving an ominous dark corner of the store that stands as reminder to any customer who wants to snatch up a few good deals that the store will soon be closed.
Borders currently has almost 10,700 employees, all of whom will soon be out of work. In addition, a number of companies had departments that worked primarily or exclusively with Borders, and those positions will be lost as well.
In America’s struggling economy, an employment loss of this size is unfortunate. Many people are upset about Borders’ closing, but independently owned book stores have mixed feelings. While their closing will give customers less options and make them more likely to shop in their stores, it does not guarantee that former Borders customers won’t simply make the switch to online purchasing instead.
As Borders begins to slowly die, interest turns to their main competition, Barnes and Noble. Brick and mortar book stores in general have lost business in recent years, and people are wondering if Barnes and Noble will be next. However, it seems that Barnes and Noble will survive the current transition from brick and mortar sites to online buying and reading E-books.
They have managed to continue turning a profit, which Borders hasn’t been able to do since 2006, by expanding beyond the physical store. Last Christmas, Barnes and Noble managed to earn 30 percent of online book sales, and their Nook E-reader is fairly popular.
Borders was an icon for many years and many of their loyal customers are sad to see them go. The closing of their doors signals a significant shift in the way people are both buying and reading their books. Perhaps 20 years from now the idea of going to a store to buy a book will seem just as strange as getting milk from the milkman.
Image Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/boydsworld/