Borders Closes Stores across the Country

Liana Teixeira

After 40 years, Borders, Waldenbooks, Borders Express, and Borders Outlet stores across the country have closed their doors for good.  The chain filed for bankruptcy in February 2011 and closed more than 200 stores in an attempt to regroup and address their financial troubles.  However, by July 2011, it was confirmed that the bookstore chain would be liquidating its remaining 400 stores, leaving over 10,000 employees without jobs.

Borders Group began as a small used book shop in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1971. The company quickly expanded, becoming the second-largest bookstore chain in the United States.  Seattle’s Best Coffee partnered up with Borders in 2004 and placed in-store cafes inside all Borders locations. This cozy mix of literature, music, and coffee offered a tranquil and secure atmosphere for avid readers.  Still, the company’s underlying financial troubles could not be disguised any longer.  The swift decline of the bookstore giant was somewhat expected, despite the unspoken shock felt by loyal Borders customers.

Problems began when the company did not keep up with the ever-changing retail environment. While competitors like Barnes & Noble and began marketing Kindles, Nooks, and online books, Borders neglected to enter this new age of reading.  Only in 2008 did the group start marketing their own e-commerce site, reports  Borders’ international expansion also stretched the company awfully thin. When publishers stopped getting paid on time for their shipped books, the company headed even further downhill.  According to the International Business Times, at the time of its bankruptcy, Borders owed an estimated $1.3 billion in debt to big-name publishers including Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Random House, and Harper Collins.

“Following the best efforts of all parties, we are saddened by this development,” said Borders Group President Mike Edwards to the International Business Times, “We were all working hard towards a different outcome, but the headwinds we have been facing for quite some time.”

As in every grand era, there is a vibrant beginning and an unfortunate ending, and decreased customer spending coupled with vendor-related conflicts indeed brought Borders to its limit. Other retailers like Barnes & Noble and may benefit from the closure of Borders stores, as they will likely inherit Borders’ former customers looking for the next closest bookseller.