News item: Borders to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
I have shopped at bookstores since I was… well, since well before I was old enough to drive. I had my favorite bookstore in Beaumont, TX, in the Los Angeles area, and in Dallas. (My favorite, of all time, was Acres of Books in Long Beach, a used bookstore that was, truly, acres of books. Not attractive, dusty, “old,” wonderful! It is now closed, as I read on Wikipedia).
When we moved to Dallas in 1987, I shopped at Taylor’s Bookstore. A locally owned “small chain,” it’s location in the outer parking lot of NorthPark Center was ideal. I could always park right in front, and get lost for a few hours.
The big national chain stores put Taylors out of business, and I switched to Borders. For some reason, I always liked Borders better than Barnes & Noble – no, I don’t know why. Just the feel of the store.
But I helped put Borders out of business. Because, for the last few years, I have spent far more at Amazon.com that I do at the physical stores. So, it’s partly my fault – but it is still sad.
The bookseller’s finances crumbled amid declining interest in bricks-and-mortar booksellers, a broad cultural trend for which it had no answers. The company suffered a series of management gaffes, piled up unsustainable debts and failed to cultivate a meaningful presence on the Internet or in increasingly popular digital e-readers.
The article seems to imply that Borders’ problems are significantly Borders’ fault. But, let’s say that Barnes & Noble is better managed, better run, with its Nook, and on-line business, developed in a pretty timely manner. Here’s the thing: I’m loyal to Amazon on-line, and have never once even checked Barnes & Noble’s site.
And, it really doesn’t matter. Here’s the future, from later in the article:
Online shopping and the advent of e-readers, with their promise of any book, any time, anywhere, and cheaper pricing, have shoppers abandoning Borders and Barnes & Nobles bookstores as they did music stores a decade ago.
“I think that there will be a 50 percent reduction in bricks-and-mortar shelf space for books within five years and 90 percent within 10 years,” says Mike Shatzkin, chief executive of Idea Logical Co., a New York consulting firm. “Bookstores are going away.”
“Bookstores are going away.” It’s a sad day.
And for this blog, which focuses on business issues and ideas and business books, here’s the question – are you in a business that can shift and change and adapt with the times, or are your days numbered also?