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Borders: A death of a business, not books

by Kelly MacNeil on July 22, 2011

There has been a lot of panic surrounding the final closure of all Borders bookstores, particularly as the move becomes a reality with liquidation sales at all 399 stores, from locations at airports to Borders Express. Around 30 stores have been saved by a bid from Books-A-Million, but all the other properties will be closed.

So what does Borders' closure mean for the written word?

"We were all working hard towards a different outcome," President Mike Edwards said. "[B]ut the headwinds we have been facing for quite some time, including the rapidly changing book industry, e-reader revolution and turbulent economy, have brought us to where we are now."

This seems to paint a bleak picture for the future of books in general. But the closure may mean less than the panicked publishing industry seems to think. Slate.com points out that other companies have adapted to the e-reader phenomenon and, overall, the internet, while Borders stayed still.

Borders made the serious mistake of outsourcing book sales to Amazon from 2001 to 2008. Most of the money from this relationship went toward an expansion of Borders' brick-and-mortar stores at a time when e-commerce presented a land of opportunity.

Not only that, the publication claims that Borders ignored the e-reader craze for far too long. While Barnes & Noble supplied readers with the Nook and Amazon went ahead with the Kindle, Borders released its Kobo device last year.

"It is fair to call Borders’ demise a failure of leadership," writes BNET's John Baldoni. "Its executive team never seemed to get the essence of booking selling and book buying in the 21st century. As such the Borders brand, for those who knew it, withered and eventually died."

So, while bookstores in general do seem to be suffering, that doesn't meant that people aren't reading as much as before – it just means that they're reading differently and Borders failed to acknowledge the fact.  

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