Borders Falls

By Deane Barker on February 12, 2011

Borders Nearing Bankruptcy Filing: The end of brick-and-mortar book stores has been predicted for years, but I feel like this is the biggest (saddest?) milestone yet.  Borders is putting a positive spin on it, but experts are saying they’ll have to liquidate like Circuit City.

Online shopping, and the advent of e-readers, with their promise of any book, any time, anywhere, and cheaper pricing, have shoppers abandoning Borders and Barnes & Nobles bookstores as they did music stores a decade ago.

“I think that there will be a 50% reduction in bricks-and-mortar shelf space for books within five years, and 90% within 10 years,” says Mike Shatzkin, chief executive of Idea Logical Co., a New York consulting firm. “Book stores are going away.”

Ninety percent reduction in shelf space 10 years?  It’s over.  Amazon and Internet in general have won.

I will genuinely miss book stores.   Though the Internet has a million advantages, I will still miss them.  Will used book stores be the only ones left?  Can they even survive?



  1. Ouch indeed… I too will miss them, although I hardly ever go to my local Borders.

    I guess the main reason to go to a bookstore is to be able to see the book in person; and to an extent the Amazon “Look Inside!” thing does that.

    Hmmm… on the technical side, companies have started doing (somewhat) cheaper PDF versions of their books, including pre-release versions so people can get access to the information earlier (and help with typos, etc.). I wonder if we’ll start seeing “First Chapter for $0.50!” type promotions online, to get people interested. Maybe the first chapter will be free on the author’s blog.

    For that matter, we could go back to publishing books as serials, as they did in Dickens’ day… publish a chapter a week, you pay for it as long as you’re interested (or subscribe).

    Lots of ideas to try…

  2. Perhaps there are certain books that can still thrive, such as art, photography, and other design related material where e-books just wouldn’t work well.

  3. I think when Borders and Barnes & Noble depart the scene it will make more room for the independents — someone will just have to figure out what a book store can be great at if it’s not actually stocking books, because no one can compete with Amazon on selection.

  4. After getting a couple Borders gift cards for Christmas, we recently ventured into two of the stores for the first time in quite a while, and based on what we’ve found, I’m surprised Borders has lasted this long. At the stores in our area (southeast Michigan, where the chain is headquartered!) mis-shelved items and absurd prices seem to be par for the course. I came across a 40%-off coupon, which reduced Borders price to approximately the same as the regular Amazon prices. If not for the gift cards (which we rushed to spend before bankruptcy!) we certainly wouldn’t have gone there, and after what we’ve seen, we won’t be in any rush to go back.

    All of these comments also apply to the Borders website, which gave numerous errors while I tried to place an order.

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