Can Borders Become Relevant Again?

by Rachel Baker on February 16, 2011

I’m sure those of you that follow the publishing and book selling industry have already heard this; and those of you that scroll through your newspapers online have also heard – Borders has filed for Chapter 11.

There’s a good article about it over at Publishers Weekly.

The announcement made this morning was foreshadowed last night when Borders implemented an ordering freeze and Ingram, its lifeline to the publishers, stopped shipping books. Publishers are now on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars, led by Penguin Group (USA) which is owed $41.1 million, followed by Hachette at $36.9 million, Simon & Schuster at $33.8 million, Random House at $33.5 million, and HarperCollins at $25.8 million. Neither major book distributor, Ingram or Baker & Taylor, were among the leading creditors, and only one book distributor, National Book Network, is owed money with $2 million outstanding. The top 30 unsecured creditors are owed $314 million. The filing listed $1.27 billion in assets and $1.29 billion in liabilities. Borders said it expects to be able to pay vendors for merchandise shipped to it after today’s filing; those owed money prior to the filing will only be paid with the approval of the bankruptcy court.

I thought this statement was interesting:

Although it will close 30% of its stores, Borders said it plans to remain “a national presence,” and that in addition to its bricks-and-mortar stores it will continue to operate its online bookstore and its e-bookstore.

My question to you is: Is Borders even remotely relevant?  I’m not sure it is.  I think they may have missed the boat on the ebook evolution.  Frankly, I’m not sure they can really catch up.  It will be interesting to see how their restructuring goes and whether it will be enough.

edited to add: The list of store closures has been released.  You can view the article and click on the link embedded in the first paragraph to download the list.

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