Borders To Close 200 Bookstores

Borders announced that 200 of their stores will be, in the words of their CEO, “right-sized” by January. The shredding focuses on Waldenbooks, Borders Express and Borders Outlet stores, mainly those in malls and airports. We kinda saw this coming.

Back in March we reported two tips. One was from a Borders employee who said they were getting rid of the CD and DVD sections in some stores. The other was from the owner of a small music label who said his distributor had cut off shipments to Borders once for nonpayment and that the labels would have to agree to not hold the distributor “liable on any future shipments to Borders in case they file for bankruptcy.”

So, while that was an overstatement it was clear they were in some kind of trouble. Anyway, kind of sad. I like books.

Borders to Close 200 Walden Outlets in January [Publishers Weekly] (Photo: Infrogmation) (Thanks to Meg!)

PREVIOUSLY: Is Borders About To Go Under?
Is Borders Shrinking Its CD And DVD Sections?
Borders’ has fired their CEO and replaced him with an Amazon Kindle

Comments

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  1. justagigilo85 says:

    Politically correct bullshit. Stores don’t close down for good anymore, they right size. George Carlin would be turning in his grave.

    • bkord123 says:

      I am a huge fan of George. I love this comment. He’s the first person I thought of when I read “right-sized”. That euphemism doesn’t even address what they’re doing. Pathetic.

    • savvy999 says:

      @justagigilo85: I don’t know about “politically correct bullshit”… to me it’s simply “corporatespeak bullshit”. Subtle difference.

      • justagigilo85 says:

        @savvy999: Side note: what subtle difference is there between “caregiver” and “caretaker?”

        (just finished reading “3x Carlin: an orgy of george”)

  2. satoru says:

    Bit of a shame really. I used their 30-40% off coupons on occasion to buy books from them. Unfortunately without those coupons they don’t even become remotely competitive with Amazon. They’re really in a no-win situation. I wonder how B&N is able to semi stay afloat?

    • pixiegirl1 says:

      @satoru: I’m guessing B&N is staying a float because of their website. They frequently have books for much less online than in the store. I can’t tell you how many times I looked up a book I wanted on their website & then go to the store and they want full price in the store and I end up walking out empty handed because they will not match their online price.

    • Tim says:

      @satoru: I went there a lot last Christmas season, and every time, the cashier just had one of those massive coupons at the register and scanned it for each transaction. I don’t know if this was just a seasonal thing, actually.

    • barb95 says:

      @satoru: I read somewhere that the Twilight books are keeping big bookstores like Borders and B&N alive. Something like 4 out of 5 books bought last year were Stephenie Meyer books.

      • pixiegirl1 says:

        @barb95: OMG That’s one of the things I went there for I wanted the complete set. Online it was like $45-50 for the hardcover set. In the store it was $80-85! I walked out and went home and bought it online. If it was only a few bucks I wouldn’t really care but that was too much of a price difference for me to buy it in the store.

    • thisistobehelpful says:

      @satoru: Yeah their coupons are pretty awesome. Plus they’re the only place within 40 miles I can get mags in french. Then again mine has all its shelves stocked and has recently done a little renovating so maybe this one’s ok at least. The B&N around here sucks and they never, and I mean never, have what I’m looking for.

    • Snaptastic says:

      @satoru: THIS.

      I used to get some nice Paperchase notebooks from there. Fairly thick notebook for $6.99. At some point, they only sold notebooks half the size for $10.99. I like the notebooks, but at that price I figured they can screw themselves–except for the rare occasion where I get one of those coupons and I can get the notebook for almost the same price that I used to.

      Barnes and Nobles gets the rest of my business because they haven’t tried gouging me and their member card actually gets me some nice discounts.

  3. hewhoroams says:

    They’ve actually known about this for a while and have been planning it for months now.
    Most of the major stores are fine, but malls and airports are obviously the targets for closure.

  4. Brain.wav says:

    Oh, great. Hope they don’t close the Waldenbooks near me… sure, Amazon tends to be cheaper, but I impulse buy books a lot.

  5. dark_inchworm says:

    Is there a list of stores anywhere?

  6. coan_net says:

    What is sad is that they will be closing the Waldenbooks that is in my hometown.

    … well what is sad is that we have another local bookstore (so 2 total) that is in the process of closing (they are doing their $.50 book sale starting today I think… and then $.25 here soon until everything is gone).

    Out town is not big enough for 2 bookstores – and if Borders would have announced their decision earlier, I would guess the local store would have tried to stick it out…. but now we will be with 0 book stores… yea.

  7. wiretapstudios says:

    I went in a Borders about a month ago, that was a gigantic two-floor store. It was empty…I had to find and ask a salesperson to make sure they were still open. It seemed like a decent store, the staff was friendly, and even gave me a 40% off discount for no reason at all really. There was just nobody there.

  8. Eldritch says:

    I sent this in. I’m gutted they’re closing my little bookstore. I’ve worked hard there for years and they’re not even waiting until after the holidays to shut us down. It’s awful.

  9. mrbill says:

    Yeah, the store at Westheimer/Gessner in Houston has been telling people for months that they’re closing by the end of January.

  10. nocar says:

    If they would just lower their prices to something reasonable instead of playing the coupon game they might stay in business. If I’ve forgotten to bring my “coupon of the week” I don’t even bother stopping in to browse.

    • NorthernWhistle says:

      @nocar: Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. All of book publishing is an incredibly low-margin business. The bookstores can set whatever price they want to on their merchandise, but they typically purchase books from the publisher at 45-55% of the list price. If you’re talking about a $26 hardcover bought from the publisher at $12 and given a 30% new-hardcover discount for bookstore customers, there’s only $6.20 of profit there … and you still have to pay for the retail space, employee salaries, other overhead; heck, even printing and attaching the stickers with the new in-store price, etc, etc.

      If you’re thinking of the current hardcover price war going on with Amazon, Target, and Walmart, those deep discounts are being subsidized by the other more profitable parts of the businesses. All three of those stores are actually selling some of those books at a loss in order to be competitive.

      Not saying that you’re not right that they’ll need to somehow cut prices if they want to retain customers, but it’s not simple greed that keeps stores from doing so. This is just another indication that the book industry business models are troubled.

  11. Smashville says:

    I will admit that the potential of Borders going under frightens me, as it is easily my favorite store.

    I like Barnes and Noble, but they rearrange it too often and I can never find anything.

  12. msquier says:

    Good, they’re not closing any in Delaware because I have a friend who works for one and with the economy the way it is, he’d have a heck of a time finding another job.

  13. tricky1 says:

    Nice…there goes another store in our already pathetic mall…Just lost one earlier this week. Our local economy is taking hits left and right.

  14. FatLynn says:

    This makes a lot of sense. They are trying to focus on the big stores where people go as more of a destination: free wi-fi, coffee and snacks available, room to sit and browse, in short, the things that add value to a bricks-and-mortar store. The locations that can’t offer anything more than an on-line retailer, and at a higher price, will be closing.

  15. Beef Supreme says:

    The big one close to me is nice, it looks like they axed the last few waldenbooks locations in our area though.

  16. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    They’re closing the Borders Express in the mall near me. Probably because there’s a full-blown Borders on the mall periphery.

    • Ragman says:

      @torgonius: They closed the Waldenbooks in my nearby mall years ago after they opened a full size shop on the mall drive. There also is a full B&N half a mile away. Between those and a decent sized Half Price Books nearby, it was pretty inevitable.

  17. crichton007 says:

    I’d really love an alternative to B&N; something that offers some kind of a discount without the need to purchase a “membership”. The issue with Borders is that I can rarely find books in stock that I am interested in which means that I would have to order them so any coupon they offer would not apply. Add that to the fact that they are very inconveniently located I think that there is very little they can do save themselves besides this approach of cutting pieces away until they die.

  18. vladthepaler says:

    Are you sure that “right sized” means closed? Maybe they’re just going to increase the size of their conservative literature sections.

    I don’t understand why anyone would pay full price plus tax for a book anyway, what with amazon and free shipping. Support your local bookseller, yes, but Borders isn’t that.

  19. savdavid says:

    “Right sized”. I don’t suppose that means making any bigger? Then they are downsizing. period

  20. dilbert69 says:

    The list doesn’t indicate that a single Borders store will close. It’s all Borders Express and Waldenbooks, both of which are crap, anyway.

  21. Silversmok3 says:

    Has anyone been to a Borders outlet lately? I was looking for a new Bible and spotted some screamin’ deals in the outlet store in the local mall.

  22. SacraBos says:

    The two nearest me are both mall stores. There’s a B&N nearby that is much nicer. I just don’t go into the mall that often, but I do feel gravitated toward a large bookstore when I drive near it.

    Amazon is nice, but there is nothing like the visceral experience of being in the book store. The smell, the displays, and just walking down the aisles seeing things that catch your attention. Amazon can’t replace that.

  23. Urgleglurk says:

    “Rightsized”

    “Downsized”

    “Eliminated”

    “Furloughed”

    “RIFfed, as in RIF – Reduction in force”

    “Terminated” (Was Arnie there dressed in a big silver suit?)

    …and all the other HR-related euphemisms to hide the truth and the pain from their poor employees. I despise them.

    These words are used to hide shield managers from the ugly facts: their decisions cost hundreds of people their jobs. They don’t want to even say the honest truth in plain English: permanently laid off.

    I’m so disgusted with the MBA’s and other idiots that are ruining our country with their greed and stupidity, from Goldman-Sachs down to these morons.

  24. rdclark says:

    None of the full-size Borders are closing, it would seem. So this is just a continuance of the long-term trend for mall bookstores to be supplanted by big-box bookstores, just as has happened with electronics, crafts, hardware, and other markets.

    No surprise here. This is really a story about the decline of the shopping mall.

  25. TheMonkeyKing says:

    This makes sense for the closure of the Waldens Books in Chapel Hill, NC. There is a full-size Borders just two miles up the street and this one is a mall shop.

    There is a joke around here. If you create an intersection in this area, you’ll find a Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, a Chinese restaurant, a Barnes & Noble, and a nail salon there the next morning.

  26. boomshakla says:

    Did anyone read the articles? They are just closing most of their mall-based locations, not any of the “full-size” Borders for now.

    And the remaining B. Daltons (owned by B&N are also set to close). I guess the days of every mall having a smaller bookstore may be on the way out. And with the Macy’s merger and various anchor chains closing, Barnes and Noble and Borders often take the spots in malls, which make having a Waldenbooks and the like redundant.

  27. CFinWV says:

    I would be happy to have ANY large-ish bookstore in my area. :(

  28. jennesy says:

    Sad. There’s been rumors about Borders going under for a while now (and anyone who gets their emails has probably noticed an increase in the big 30-40% off coupons, double rewards points, etc.). I like Borders much better than B&N. The individual stores have more autonomy as far as what to display which is nice. They also have great coupons and an awesome rewards program. I’ll be really sad if the whole chain goes under. It’s too bad that the smaller stores are closing up, though, it was nice to have actual bookstores in the mall and airports. I guess we’re stuck with Hudson News and bestsellers when stuck in airports now.

  29. patjk73 says:

    I always preferred Borders. I would rather have their FREE membership and get 30-40% coupons by e-mail than spend $20 for an annual Barnes & Noble membership that gives 10% off (Barnes & Noble).
    “So now I have to spend $200 just to get my money back???”

  30. deniseb says:

    Borders is the best big chain; Waldenbrooks the worst.

  31. glevkoff says:

    Sad to see this, but I’m not too surprised…the big Borders store near me isn’t on the closure list, but some of the signs are there–store getting a little shabby looking, walls that need a fresh coat of paint, decreased stock. I have a not-good feeling that the whole chain is liable to go down the tubes within the next year or two.

    What’s surprising is that Books-a-Million, which used to be the ghetto-end big bookstore chain, is actually beginning to upgrade. At least the ones in my area have been nicely redecorated, and a couple of new locations have opened that are comparable to B&N, interior-wise. The cafe part has also improved, with a better (and fresher) array of products, and pretty decent coffee. I say it’s surprising, because BAM has very little in the way of coupons or big sales, and the discount card is not all that great of a deal. Seems strange that, in spite of this, they seem to be able to be upscaling to some degree, while Borders looks to kind of be hitting the skids.

  32. deniseb says:

    I usually patronize my independent bookstores, but I do love Borders. I’d hate to see them go under. Here in San Francisco, they’re a lot better than B&N.

  33. thesadtomato says:

    @pecan 3.14159265: No independent bookstores near your office? I miss the days before superbigboxcorporate bookstores.

  34. MostlyHarmless says:

    @pecan 3.14159265: My local B&N is farther from my work (10 mins) as my apartment (5 mins) so I just go home.

  35. meg9 says:

    @PsiCop: Awww, just saw that the bookstore in a mall I grew up near is closing. It was a Waldensbooks since 1983 or so, hearing that it is closing is kind of depressing. There is a huge B+N down the road from this mall though, so that’s nice I guess/

  36. HogwartsAlum says:

    @PsiCop: Ours isn’t either. Just in Kansas City.

  37. redskull says:

    @korybing: Yeah, what’s up with the “lying on the floor reading in the bookstore” thing I’m noticing lately? I don’t even like lying on the floor in my own home; there’s no way I’d lie down in a public place.

    Plus when this happens, am I supposed to assume that aisle is closed off to me, or am I supposed to try and delicately step over the jerk sprawled out on the floor?

  38. bainelaker says:

    @satoru:

    Heh. “Pitch Up”. Airport. Punny.

  39. ninjatoddler says:

    @Ragman: Hot air rises so the floor crawler won’t get a chance to interact with the gaseous product.

    It’s probably more effective to bend your knees and release. Trust me on that one.

  40. drjayphd says:

    @dark_inchworm: As per PsiCop’s comment below, yep. I do have to say I appreciate the list being sorted by state, unlike some companies named Ritz Camera…