Wither Borders?

Executives are resigning, other executives are in New York City meeting with book publishing big wigs to try to come to new payment terms. Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble stock is finally starting to take off and Borders’ corporate arch rival is getting another flurry of virtual pats on the back, often from the same digital reporters and commentators who a few months ago were wetting themselves in delight over the troubles that bookstore giant was encountering in the market.

Here’s an assortment of articles regarding the current situation at Borders Books. It will be interesting to see if the speculation matches the final outcome.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/45681-publishers-eyeing-borders-discussions-warily

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/45671-two-borders-execs-resign-b-n-issues-statement-on-special-terms-.html

http://publishing.morgan-james.com/2011/01/borders-to-offer-new-financing-plan-publishers-suspend-book-shipments/

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/01/04/borders-discusses-deferred-payments-with-publishers/

http://www.nj.com/business/times/index.ssf?/base/business-5/1294124713264191.xml&coll=5

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=12527772

This is an interesting “timeline” for the history of Borders:

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0422138720110105?pageNumber=1

Many  Borders employees that I have  spoken with suggest that the trouble started with the IPO and the expansion plans. The real estate group from that period saddled the company with some remarkably bad locations and even worse lease terms.

One of the best sources for information about the chain comes from the Live Journal public blog, “I Work At Borders”. I check this space frequently. For a company that’s shed a lot of employees and closed hundreds of stores, they still have a lot of dedicated and very smart people working for them. To the opinion page writers who claim that American workers are not capable, I say: Go read this blog. Then go stuff yourself.

http://community.livejournal.com/iworkatborders/

Publicly, the national magazine distributors that I’ve talked to say they are “watching closely” the developments and as near as I can tell, are prepared to adjust draws accordingly.

It’s true that I love underdogs and root for them with a passion that makes no earthly sense (Although I’m not a fan of the Cubs. I’m not that irrational). So don’t be surprised that what I really want to see is for this chain and it’s employees that they somehow dodge the ending that seems inevitable.

But I’ve also been here before and truth be told, this does not look good. And the demise of this chain will not be good for book publishing, magazine publishing, or the thousands (correction, in one of my posts I said 16,000, but it may be closer to 19,000) people who work directly for this company, and the many thousands more whose businesses rely on their products being sold in this chain.

No number of flip words in some blog heralding the arrival of a digital utopia and free reading for all on way cool devices will ease the dislocation the crash of a corporation this size will make.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my iMac, my MacBook, my iPod, and I really like the iPad my wife won as a corporate gift a few weeks ago.

 

I like the Borders app on the iPad and on my Android powered smart phone.

Source: Borders.com

But I like being here better.

Source: Borders.com

This is something I can connect to emotionally and intellectually.

This is a tool. A way cool tool. Eventually it will be outdated, fail mechanically, or implode because of a software bug. Ultimately, it will disappoint me.

But that’s not a fact, only my opinion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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