The last-ditch deal that would have had Books-A-Million buy 30 Borders‘ stores –saving nearly 1000 jobs – fell to shit today, signaling a final and certain end for all Borders stores from sea to shining sea. Those 30 stores would have been converted to Book-a-Million stores if the deal had been finalized. Books-a-Million, a regional chain in the south and midwest, had been trying to negotiate a deal with the bankrupt Michigan-based retailer to acquire the 30 stores, the inventory, fixtures, equipment and leases. But those efforts failed to yield fruit, the two sides not able to agree on terms.
Borders declared bankruptcy earlier this year, but failed to reorganize its operations and draw an attractive enough bid from a buyer. The once proud and sophisticated bookseller innovated the book superstore with inventories of hundreds of thousands of titles, soft lighting and coffee-related enticements to linger in comfy chairs. But Borders neglected to apply the same foreword thinking to the issue of dwindling bookstore sales, suffering mightily in recent years, lagging behind in an online presence, in adopting e-readers and neglecting to aggressively pursue sales of digital books.
The 40-year-old bookseller announced that it will start shuttering its remaining 399 stores around the country Friday, laying off 11,000 people, after declaring bankruptcy in February and initially closing 200 stores.The Borders liquidation will have far-reaching effects, putting thousands of people out of work at a time of crippling unemployment, particularly in war-torn Michigan, where Borders is based.
A year ago it would have seemed inconceivable that major metropolitan city’s biggest bookstores would be shuttered and that Borders, for all of its mismanagement and losses, would not find a way to continue, in the jargon of bankruptcy, as a “going concern.” But once the last stores are closed, all that will remain of this once mighty bookseller will be its “remnants”. The only thing I am sure of is that the book peddling business is in a period of flux so dynamic that anything could happen. But crap I’ll miss Borders. The only thing I won’t miss are the stupid barcode stickers they slapped on every single book.
These are the Borders locations on the list to be saved if the deal with Books-a-Million went through:
California: San Diego; Sand City
Maine: Bangor; Portland
Maryland: Columbia; Hagerstown; Waldorf
New Hampshire: Concord; West Lebanon
New Jersey: Mays Landing
North Carolina: Southern Pines
Oregon: Eugene; Gresham; Salem
Pennsylvania: Butler; Exton; Hanover; Monaca; Pennsdale; Selinsgrove; Scranton; York
South Carolina: Charleston
South Dakota: Rapid City
Texas: San Antonio
I’ve been to Scranton, and Scranton can NOT afford to not have a bookstore.
Illustration by Thomas James @ ThomasJamesIllustration.com