According to Publisher's Weekly, bookstore sales were down 1.4 percent in 2010.)
But this NY Times article provides some great analysis on what really led to Borders' collapse. And it's kind of infuriating, in that strange way you can be infuriated about something you didn't care about much until you found out there was blatant stupidity involved. They had no cohesive e-book strategy when even your 80-year-old grandmother could tell how hot the e-book trend would be? They didn't have their own e-commerce site until 2008? (seriously?!) And now they're stiffing publishers on books shipped during the holiday season. As David Foster Wallace would say, what a f$#@ing mess. Frankly, it's amazing they lasted as long as they did. What's particularly interesting about the supposed-to-be-objective NY Times article is its tone: almost an exasperated frustration, no doubt mirroring the sentiments of many Borders employees, customers, publishers and creditors.
So the company will continue to do business, but will close about 200 of its about 650 bookstores (here's the list of closures, many of which are having liquidation sales this weekend, if you're interested in some cheap books), including several here in the Chicago area. As mostly a B&N and independent bookstore man myself, I didn't really follow the story at all until the actual announcement earlier this week. But now I learn that the store near me that hosted some great author events (including Joshua Ferris and Jonathan Tropper) is on the chopping block. That makes me sad.
I suppose that if there's anything positive to come from this, it's that it will serve as a cautionary tale on how not to run a book business. In addition, maybe independent bookstores operating in the same neighborhoods as closed Borders stores will see better sales. (The NY Times piece points out that Borders' overexpansion in the 1980s and '90s killed many independent bookstores. Talk about a long overdue comeuppance!) Maybe this will be a signal to other booksellers to circle the wagons and get creative about how to stay afloat. And, a final positive is this tweet from Jimmy Fallon: "Borders filed for bankruptcy & will close 200 stores. When Sarah Palin heard, she was like 'Finally, we’re closing the borders!'"
What do you think? Sad/angry/frustrated about Borders' bankruptcy? Don't care? Think the company will eventually bounce back?