It’s a sad day for book lovers. And for the economy and the unemployed. Today, Borders Group Inc. announced the company will be liquidated and all of its remaining stores will be closed.
After failing to find any last-minute bidders willing to keep the company in operation, the company canceled a planned auction that would have taken place tomorrow, and will soon turn the company’s assets over to liquidators.
Last week, Najafi Companies, a Phoenix, AZ based privet equity firm, offered to buy Borders for $215 million, but Borders’ creditors had objections with the buyout over fears that the deal was structured in a way that would permit Najafi to sell off parts of the company without repaying the company’s debts.
With no other buyers, the bankruptcy court has approved the sale of the company’s assets to Hilco Merchant Resources and Gordon Brothers Group, a pair of retail liquidation firms.
Borders had been the second largest bookseller in the US, once operating more than 1,000 stores. By the time the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February of 2011, its numbers had dwindled to 642. In its bankruptcy restructuring, the company trimmed that number to 399 with just under 11,000 employees, who will all be jobless once the liquidation is complete.
The liquidation of Borders is a sad day for many book lovers. The company’s management has been criticized for myriad reasons over the years, but perhaps the key factor leading to the company’s collapse was due to it’s late and perfunctory entry into the eBook market. The release of its overpriced and under-featured Kobo eReader was delayed a number of times, and was outdated by the time it finally hit the shelves late last year. The day it was released, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble both dropped the prices of their eReaders, making Kobo way overpriced for the features it offered in comparison to Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s nook.
On the upside of an otherwise depressing piece of news, with hundreds of big box stores gone, maybe we will see a re-emergence of small, independent book stores, even if all they offer is used books. While eBooks will likely keep increasing their market share, I don’t think we’ll ever see books go away completely. At least that is my hope.