It looks like the final chapter has been written on Borders bookstores. After price slashing and downsizing and countless "Store Closing" sales, the last word is that the venerable bookseller is asking the bankruptcy court to accept a liquidation bid from Hilco and Gordon Brothers. That means the 399 stores will be closed and around 10,700 employees will lose their jobs.
But the reverberations in the publishing industry go much further than that. Major publishers that have representatives that deal exclusively with Borders will probably get pink slips as well. And then there are the authors whose books were sold there -- Borders accounted for almost a third of the shelf space available to many, so sales can't help but drop. And with Borders in debt to most publishers anyway, the losses probably will be felt by the people who wrote the books.
Not to mention what the closure will mean to the communities that are losing the stores.
"For decades, Borders stores have been destinations within our communities, places where people have sought knowledge, entertainment, and enlightenment and connected with others who share their passion," said said Borders Group President Mike Edwards in a statement. "Everyone at Borders has helped millions of people discover new books, music and movies, and we all take pride in the role Borders has played in our customers' lives. I extend a heartfelt thanks to all of our dedicated employees and our loyal customers."
If the court approves of the proposed arrangements, liquidation could begin in some stores and facilities as soon as Friday, July 22, with Borders' doors finally closing by the end of September.
So how did this come about? Edwards explains: "We were all working hard towards a different outcome, but the headwinds we have been facing for quite some time, including the rapidly changing book industry, eReader revolution and turbulent economy, have brought us to where we are now."
This is not unlike changes in the music industry. With the advent of downloadable music, so many record stores went out of business, as well. Just try and find a "record store" these days. If it isn't independent, and selling vintage and used, it probably isn't selling.
Brick and mortar bookstores could well be headed down the same path, despite the best efforts of Barnes & Noble. Perhaps America can support at least one major book-selling chain.
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