|(Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)|
Borders finally filed for bankruptcy protection this morning and a few of the numbers associated with that move have become public:
Around 200 of the 642 stores will be shut down.Borders always did seem to be a step behind Barnes & Noble to me and I never really enjoyed browsing my local Borders the way I enjoy browsing so many other bookstores. There is just something about the layout of the store that creates such a sterile atmosphere that I seldom spend any real time (or money) there. I can't put my finger on what it is exactly, but it's some combination of a less than personable staff and the floor plan that irks me.
Of the approximately 19,000 Borders employees, some 6,000 are expected to lose their jobs.
The company has secured $505 million in financing to be used in reorganizing under Chapter 11 rules.
Borders shares can now be had for 18 cents each - an all-time low share price for the company.
Borders owes $41.1 million to Penguin Group, $36.9 million to Hatchett Book Group, and $33.8 million to Simon & Schuster - only a small portion of the company's total debt of $1.3 billion.
Hiring 4 CEOs in five years (none of them with bookseller experience, by the way) is not a great idea.
A complete list of the stores being shut down can be found here. (Surprisingly, none of the seven Houston stores are on the list but Dallas and Austin get hit hard.)
But that's just me, one customer. Where Borders seems to have been most shortsighted is in never really positioning itself in the e-book market; the company never could carve out an e-book niche for itself. I mean, come on...all of us could see the trend coming years ago. Right? But for some reason, the revolving door managers of Borders missed the boat completely. Does anyone think "Borders" when they think e-books? Seriously?
I hate to be a pessimist when it comes to the survival of any bookstore but I can't see a way that this is going to end well. Borders could not compete in the market place even when it was supposedly financially healthy (the company has not shown an annual profit since 2006). How is a company as financially crippled as this one going to compete in that same market place?
I sincerely hope that I'm wrong, but that's not because I particularly love Borders bookstores. It's just that it would be a shame to see this huge chain bite the dust after it ruthlessly put so many indie bookstores out of business during the last two decades. Is Amazon.com going to the the only major bookseller still standing ten years from now?