In a nutshell, no one wanted to take a chance on a retailer that is broke and represents an increasingly anachronistic way of buying books. The chain's 400 remaining stores will be shuttered, assuming that a liquidation plan is approved by a bankruptcy judge. Going-out-of-business sales could start as early as Friday, says the WSJ. At its peak, Borders had more than 1,000 locations. From AP:
If Borders liquidates, it will be a "sad day in book publishing's history and will do severe and lasting damage to the industry's ecosystem," said Simba Information senior trade analyst Michael Norris. "There are so many people who buy a small number of books in a given year that the absence of a nearby store that they like can really curb how much they buy," he said. "They won't go to another store or online like flicking a switch."
Mitch Albom reflects:
I still remember walking into the original Borders bookstore in Ann Arbor. It seemed to take up the entire block. "You gotta see this place!" a friend had gushed, and when we pulled open the doors, I knew what he meant. A symphony exploded in my head. This was 1985, a little more than a decade after Tom and Louis Borders, two brothers who were students at the University of Michigan, slapped together a used book operation on the second floor of a building. Now, here on State Street, was this massive pantheon to the written works of the world. New books. Used books. Local authors. International authors. The classics. The arts. Politics. History. Miles of paperbacks. Endless aisles. As a young writer, you wandered through the place and said, "One day, maybe me..." It was magic. Magic fades.
*This is not likely to go smoothly, with landlords, creditors and e-book maker Koboall objecting to the liquidation process. From Bloomberg:
"The debtors are proposing a hurried and confusing sale process that leaves parties such as Kobo uninformed as to precisely what will be sold or how the debtors intend to proceed," lawyers for Kobo wrote. Kobo, a Toronto-based maker of electronic books, said it should have the right of first refusal for any transfer of Borders' 11 percent stake in its equity, and Borders' shouldn't be allowed to sell information that Kobo has licensed to Borders. The new sales motion isn't consistent with Borders' past practices and violates "critical landlords rights and protections" under leases, said lawyers for Macerich Co. (MAC) and other landlords.