Daily Archives: March 15, 2011

Borders, B&N and more

Let’s just get right to it.  Borders has announced it will make the decision this week on the fate of up to 75 more stores.  As I noted in yesterday’s post, these closures will come from the so-called super-stores.  CEO Edwards doesn’t anticipate closing any of the company’s smaller stores, including those at airports.  Of course, I don’t think he anticipated having to file for bankruptcy either, so don’t color me reassured just yet.

But what is more troubling is that Edwards has admitted that Borders still doesn’t have a business plan and he doesn’t anticipate having one until next month.  WHAT?  He and the rest of the Borders execs are deciding what stores to close — including some that were making a profit while keeping open others that were not — without a business plan in hand?  Sounds to me like he subscribes to the closing the barn door after the horses have gotten out school of thought.  Neither these decisions reassures me that Borders will emerge from bankruptcy and be able to thrive in the current market.

But there are others who apparently believe Edwards’ assertions that Borders will emerge from the cloud of bankruptcy in the near future.  After news broke about Edwards’ statement, stock for Barnes & Noble fell 8.9%, dropping stock prices to $10.70 a share.  Whether this was a knee-jerk reaction to what Edwards said or something else has yet to be seen.

With regard to the issue of libraries and e-books, the NYT has an article detailing not only the public uproar caused by Harper Collins’ decision to limit the number of times an e-book can be checked out to 26, but also how other publishers are looking at the issue.  Go check it out and let me know what you think.

Then there is this article that absolutely blew my mind this morning.  Simply put, the former president of Tribune Broadcasting, Ed Wilson, told participants at the annual meeting for the AAP that publishers need to create their own form of HULU.  That’s right HULU.  Now, part of me can only stare at the post in stunned silence wondering how in the world he can expect publishers who are digging their heels in and doing all they can to slow down — or even destroy — the e-book movement to agree to doing something that would take them into an operating system they have never before seen used in publishing.  This is the industry that hides its head in the sand whenever technology allows for new forms of delivery until they are pulled out by consumers and forced to embrace it.

Then there’s the part of me that’s laughing hysterically at the thought of these different publishers banding together and working together.  Sure, the big six have done it with regard to the agency model of pricing for e-books.  It’s entirely possible they might see this HULU-esque venture in the same terms.  Who knows.

Then there’s the author in me who wants to run screaming from this suggestion because I see it as yet another way publishers can try to hold onto my rights even after a book is no longer in print.  If you surf the web and read the blogs, you can find entry after entry by authors who have tried in vain to get their rights back from publishers after years of receiving no royalties or seeing reports where they have supposedly sold far fewer numbers than their contract says is needed to be considered “in print”, only to have the publishers refuse.

Now, do I see a publishing oriented HULU type of platform happening any time soon?  Not really.  But still, they ought to know better than to put stories like this where I can read them first thing in the morning.  It’s going to take me hours to get all the coffee out of my keyboard.

Now, must go find more coffee and get started on the rest of the work day.



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