Another Borders Bites The Dust

It felt something like a wake, inside one of the four Michigan Borders Bookstores going out of business and selling everything but the kitchen sink (if they had one.)

A group of about 40 vulturous remaining customers picked through the near empty book racks and remains at the Borders Bookstore in Dearborn, Michigan yesterday, trying to take final advantage of a six-week long going out of business sale. That store, along with Borders bookstores in Utica, Grosse Pointe and the smaller Arborland Borders in Anne Arbor are being forced out of business as part of a bankruptcy protection plan. Borders Group Inc., which is the second biggest retailer in the entire state of Michigan, filed for bankruptcy reportedly because of an “inability to adapt to the changing habits of readers.”

Meanwhile, cashiers tried to maintain a professional countenance despite no longer having a job to go to and with few other options for work in the area. One cashier told me “they’re not hiring” at the remaining 28 Borders stores throughout the state that will remain open. And the unidentified cashier confided that a nearby Barnes & Noble store is barely staying open due to similar losses.

It’s hard not to feel bad for the employees, but I personally had mixed emotions as my fiance and I selected 25-plus titles and walked out with two heavy bags of former bestsellers – $425.00 dollars worth of books for just $30.00 and change.
While it is a crying shame to see another “brick and mortar” bookstore sell everything that wasn’t nailed down, I was also thinking about the countless wonderful Independent bookstores forced out of business by these monolithic bookstores.

In total, Borders is closing down 200 of its stores as part of this liquidation, which if successful will fetch between $131 and $148 million dollars. And the future for Borders is definitely not bright, with plans in the works to close another 75 in the not-so-distant future.

The one-time giant 40 year old retailer has no one to blame but itself for it’s losses and closings. According to an article in The Detroit News (http://detnews.com/article/20110216/BIZ/102160379/Borders-files-for-bankruptcy–closing-4-stores-in-Michigan) Borders Bookstores nationwide have lost more than $600 million dollars over the last four fiscal years. The bottom line is that Borders failed to “adapt to rapid changes in the book market,” most glaringly due to the huge number of consumers who are now buying their books online from companies like Amazon.com, now the world’s largest bookseller. The article sites the other cause as Borders “tardy entry last year into the growing electronic reader market dominated by Amazon’s Kindle and rival Barnes & Noble’s Nook.”

Still, call me old-fashioned but there is nothing like the pleasure of going to a bookstore simply to scout the shelves. Even though Amazon now allows consumers to look inside books for sale and, in many cases, even read the first chapter absolutely free, it simply doesn’t compare to how if feels to pick up a book, feel it’s weight in your hands, touch the cover and skim through it’s pages or even sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and get acquainted with a book and it’s author.

But money talks and you-know-what walks, so I bid a sad adieu to another bookstore and try and prepare myself for what author Aldous Huxley called the “Brave New World.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an actual old-fashioned book made from paper that I need to get back to reading.

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7 Comments

Filed under Books, Life In Detroit, My Stories

7 responses to “Another Borders Bites The Dust

  1. Sara

    I’m not gonna lie, I was as anti-Kindle as they come… until I got one. Now I’m one of those people I used to hate who doesn’t like to read real books anymore because my Kindle is that awesome. Come to the dark side… You can still go walk around Barnes and Noble to get ideas!

      • Sara

        I don’t know, but I know the company is in better shape… partially because of the Nook, but also because they sell self-published books, which are a huge part of the book market these days… Borders had nothing to do with any self-published books and that was one of the things that really hurt them.

  2. Tonya

    I wonder how far behind Barnes and Noble is to this same fate. 😦

  3. Well John, you just KNOW how much I agree with you. It’s a shame. It’s like news websites: great and very up to date. But I would never give up the subscription to my morning news paper. It’s one of the few pleasures of getting up early in the morning: Coffee and a newspaper!

  4. christinerose

    Things change, and unless Big Publishing and these SuperBookstores are going to change along with the new trend in publishing, they will become obsolete.

    I never liked Borders. Never, ever.

    Now Barnes & Noble I absolutely love! But ask me the last time I bought a book anywhere but Amazon and I’d have to think really, really hard. Every cries about the demise of bookstores (and typewriters), but then ask them where they bought their last book. That’s what’s telling.

    They can’t survive without consumers, and if they consumers are buying elsewhere (i.e. Amazon.com) because it’s cheaper AND more convenient, they either need to step up or step out of the way.

    At least B&N is trying to play catch up with Amazon.com, first with the Nook and now with their PubIt! system, both secondary to Amazon’s product/service. Still, Borders didn’t even try.

    • You’re right about Borders. It’s a shame when you consider the number of Indie and Used Bookstores they put out of bus. I never really liked them, but often (ie: Boston stores) had larger inventory.
      I’ve never been one to spend time in a bookstore cafe or anything, but for me nothing beats the feeling of roaming the aisles and, perhaps, happening upon an author I was unfamiliar with. You don’t get that with Amazon.com and even if they create some kind of virtual store online, it won’t be the same. Plus, I loved seeing authors give readings and do signings. That’s going away now.
      To me it just feels more isolating and, as I learned earlier today, the more the isolation the shorter the lifespan. We are social beings. Where will we congregate in the future?

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