More on the Borders Debacle

For those of you following the Borders news, there are two articles you might want to take a look at.  The first is from WKRN-TV out of Nashville.  Borders told employees yesterday at the distribution center in LaVergne that the center would be closing later this year.  This news impacts 300 men and women employed there. Prior to this news, 200 employees had been previously let go.

According to the article, Borders plans to shut the distribution center in July as part of, “long-term plan to enhance the efficiency of its distribution network and reduce operating expenses.”  I’m afraid it may be too little, too late.  Especially since this center was, if I’m reading the article correctly, only opened in 2009.  Obviously, there were issues with their long-term planning back then, issues that have only been compounded in the months and years since then.

Another article of note — and one I highly recommend — is the Atlantic’s What Went Wrong at Borders by Peter Osnos.  Mr. Osnos details what went wrong, in his opinion, starting with the sale of Borders by its founders to K-Mart.  After reading the article and thinking about it for awhile, I have to say, I think he’s hit the nail on the head.  And, like him, I hope Borders finds a way to survive because it will have a serious impact on the publishing business if it folds.

The last paragraph of the article is something I think everyone in the publishing business, especially the retail side of it, should keep in mind:

Len Riggio, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and the successful independent proprietors, whatever their other business virtues and flaws, really have a deep attachment to books and the people who read them. But when Borders expanded, they brought in executives from supermarkets and department stores (all of whom insisted they were readers), and the result was a shuffle of titles and more downsizing against a backdrop of financial engineering, which only seemed to make matters worse. Ultimately, a successful bookstore, on any scale, depends on a specific understanding of how to make the most of the outpouring of books and the digital transformation that will attract readers. Whatever else Borders does in the months ahead, it needs to recover its belief that real book-selling is an art (with all the peculiarities that entails), as well as a viable business.

Again, hats off to Shelf Awareness for first pointing me to the above links.


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