Borders Bankrupt, Many Stores to Close

February 16th, 2011

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No one didn’t see this coming. Borders Group Inc. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. About one third of the chain’s stores will close. (Is your local store going to close? Check the list.)

The company says Borders.com is still very much in business. They’ve set up a separate website (www.bordersreorganization.com) to guide customers, creditors, and suppliers about what to expect now.

Much has already been written about the “why” of the Borders failure by journalists far more knowledgeable than I about the business side of bookselling, so I won’t rehash all of that here. Just Google it and you’ll find all the analyses — and obituaries — you want.

Is this good news for Barnes & Noble? For Amazon? Or does the loss of hundreds of stores and thousands of jobs diminish the entire industry? And what of the small-to-medium size American communities that will now lose what may, in some cases, be their only bookstore?

Ironically, I did an interview with an author today at one of the Borders stores that will be closing. I’ll miss being able to meet an author in the cafe and do an Eye on Books interview over iced coffee and oatmeal raisin cookies.

It also, unfortunately, fell to me — inadvertently — to break the news of the store’s fate to the “barista’ who served me that iced coffee. I wasn’t aware the staff hadn’t been told yet, as this was a couple of hours after the list was made public online. She took the news with good humor, but gasped when I told her that both of Washington, D.C.’s Borders stores are to be shuttered, along with several in the Virginia and Maryland suburbs. (Not the prestigious store in Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia, however.)

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