Borders Bankruptcy Portends a Grim Future in Print Industry

Mike Lindquist, Staff Writer

At this point, I’m sure most people have heard the news about the bookstore Borders closing down. Borders has declared bankruptcy and have shut down all 399 of their remaining stores, selling off as much as they can as the company attempts to liquidate all of its assets. Some within the book industry are shocked at this development. How could such a big name bookstore like Borders go out of business? As it turns out, there are many different factors contributing to this shut down. One of the main reasons is the rising popularity of electronic reading devices such as the Kindle or the Nook. E-books have proven to be a cheaper and more convenient way of storing all your books in one place, and they allow for easier shopping and less hassle. Although Borders tried to adapt, they couldn’t adapt quickly enough. E-readers took away a lot of the company’s revenue, and led to a huge decrease in sales. This also portends that e-readers will likely continue to increase in popularity and the regular book may eventually fall out of the norm. This is especially true since newer e-readers keep coming out.

Just recently, Amazon came out with the Kindle Fire, a newer, updated version of the Kindle with more special features. Another contributing factor to the decline of bookstores would also be the people who “mooch” off the bookstore. These so-called “moochers” are the people who go to the bookstore, browse, and then make a list of books they want to buy for their e-reader or order off of Amazon when they get home. Another problem was the fact that books are cheaper to buy off of websites like Amazon. More and more people are ordering books online and having them delivered to their doorstep, which certainly hurt the company’s sales.

The closing of Borders can mean a lot to the book industry. Barnes and Noble is desperately trying to pick up some of Borders’ former customers, and it is also expected that some of the Borders customers will switch to e-readers or buying books online, further hurting big book superstores. On October 1, Barnes and Noble CEO William Lynch sent out an email to the entire Borders customers list, informing them that his company had bought the customer list from Borders. CEO William Lynch didn’t even try to hide his intentions. In the email he states, “Our intent in buying the Borders customer list is simply to try and earn your business.” Throughout the e-mail, Lynch also puts in a constant plug for the Barnes and Noble e-reader, the NOOK. Some old Borders customers might also begin shopping at smaller, local bookstores, such as the Green Toad bookstore, which would definitely be good for the local economy at the very least.

What will be the future of the written word? Will it fall out of favor for the electronic word? SUNY Oneonta senior, Michael Andersons, said “I think that our society is moving away from paper and more into electronic mediums, so I’m not terribly surprised that they’re gone, but I’m disappointed to see such a staple in our society go out of business.” While some see our culture as simply “moving on”, and find that they are not happy with the closings, others have taken advantage of the opportunity. Another student, Daniel Eddy, said “I don’t care. The only reason I went there lately was because they had a sale, and I got a sweet stereo bowling bag with speakers for $12.”

Will the written word be replaced by the electronic word, or will there be a resurgence of love for actual physical books? Only time will tell. Books are an important part of our culture, and it will be interesting to see where the book industry goes next.

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