Borders Meets With Publishers Instead Of Paying Them

Though they swear everything is hunky-dory, Borders is delaying payments to big publishers and setting up some coffee klatches to talk it over. Is Borders reaching its final chapter?

“We value our relationships with them, which is why we’re engaging in discussions with them,” a Borders spokesperson told NYT. “We’re committed to working with our vendors as part of our overall effort to refinance.”

I’m guessing it will go something like, “Brick and mortar bookstores have had declining sales for years and face serious competition from online stores. Discuss!”

Struggling Borders to Meet With Publishers [NYT]

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  1. Jason says:

    Now is probably a good time to use those Borders gift cards from the holidays

    • nbs2 says:

      And of course I managed to get myself a gift card from Borders instead of BN (got a book for Christmas that I didn’t want). I guess I’ll need to find something sooner rather than later.

      It’s too bad too, as the customer service at my local Borders is far superior to that at BN – good enough to make me feel like I was at a local bookseller instead of a national chain.

      • TonyK says:

        Not our experience at all. B&N, in our current city, is vastly better than either of the Borders stores.

        • HeroOfHyla says:

          Same here. I love my local B&N. Maybe because it’s in its own building, not in a mall like the borders.

      • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

        2 of the large strip malls close to my house (southeast Charlotte) have book stores – one is a Borders, one is a BN. i couldn’t tell you which is which, they’re rather interchangeable in my mind.

  2. Starrion says:

    Hello borders.com! Goodbye gift cards.

  3. danmac says:

    Don’t worry, Borders…online retailers are just a fad! People will be back in your stores, paying $34.99 for DVDs in no time!

    • Portlandia says:

      No doubt!! And no matter how many 40% off coupons you distribute you can’t make a $35 video as cheap as the $14.99 walmart/amazon version..

      • redskull says:

        I disagree. I’ve used Borders coupons several times in the last month to bring prices on DVDs I wanted down below even Amazon prices.

        Of course discounting their merchandise 50% probably isn’t helping their bottom line much…

        • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

          50% off 250% too much is … still to much.

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            One of the most foolish things I’ve ever seen anyone do is go into Borders and buy a DVD of a movie that had been out for 10 years for the full listed price, which was $23.

      • ajaxd says:

        I used mine to get a Lego set at 50% off. Amazon can’t touch that. Not exactly a good strategy for business but I am not going to pass over such a deal.

  4. mikedt says:

    Yet every time I go into a Borders, especially on the weekends, it’s packed to the gills with customers. I can only assume they’re browsing and then going home to order the books off amazon or even borders.com.

    • Cleo256 says:

      Packed to gills with customers who can’t find the book they want, because they only carried one copy of that book, and that one copy was in dented, dinged, and otherwise not-new shape.

      I don’t want a world without brick-and-mortar bookstores (though I may experience it soon as Borders is all that’s left in my town), but I just can’t imagine how they can compete with the one-two Amazon/E-Reader punch. It’s clear that Borders isn’t doing it right, at any rate.

      • caradrake says:

        I really do like how you can go to a physical bookstore and browse the books, even read a few pages. But once a spine has been bent and broken, it really should not be sold as brand new. The last time I ran into that was at a Barnes and Noble – they had one, damaged, copy of a brand new book that I really wanted. The manager refused to give a discount, and offered to special order me a copy – said it would only take two weeks to arrive.

        In the world of online ordering (and Amazon 2-day shipping with Prime!) two weeks is waaay too long to wait for a book.

  5. Tim says:

    Is Borders reaching its final chapter?

    Is it Chapter 11? Chapter 7, maybe?

  6. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Oh, No! Borders, gone? This can’t happen! Could you imagine a world without Borders?
    What will become of Doctors, Clowns, Engineers and Teachers, without Borders?

  7. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Is Borders reaching its final chapter?

    And their book….ends at Chapter 11.

    YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

  8. Consumeristing says:

    Aww I just joined their rewards program. I got coupons too.

  9. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    The Borders near me closed down and even in its last days of clearance, the stock was about the same price as all of the other bookstores. It really defeats the purpose of liquidation if you’re just pricing it 10% less. I asked one of the employees why the books were still so expensive, and the employee said that it was because the store’s stock was merging with another store’s stock, and they were just selling what couldn’t be taken. Seems to me that if you want to sell the excess stock on a tight timetable (the store had maybe 2 months), you shouldn’t keep selling the books at the same price as everyone else.

    • Raszy says:

      The store in my mom’s mall closed recently. She bought my kids some books that weren’t too bad. But I haven’t been to a Borders in about 2 years so I haven’t been tracking their prices.

    • ajaxd says:

      This is true for most liquidation sales. You see 10% off on stuff that was usually 20% off before liquidation and twice as many people in the store. I don’t even bother going to such sales.

      • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

        Plus, they keep restocking over and over. Not much of a liquidation sale as a ‘sucker sale’.

        • TonyK says:

          CompUSA, at least here, once liquidation started, a special company took over and it was no longer CompUSA.

          And did the JUNK come in. I mean JUNK. Stuff not even related to what CompUSA used to sale. Some people bought. I didn’t. Didn’t want to get burned with a bad product that could not be returned.

          Don’t worry too much on books. But CDs, DVDs, etc, I would probably shy away from unless I knew it would be good. Case in point, it took me 3 tries to get a good copy of a TV series for Big Bang Theory, Season 2. Disc 2 was bad on 3 out of the 4 copies we tried. The 4th time worked. Do that with a liquidation sale.

        • Floobtronics says:

          Pretty much standard practice for any “going out of business” sale. You see, when a store is “going out of business,” you can pretty much guarantee that the store you knew is already gone. The “great deals” are being brought to you by a liquidator, a company that’s in the “going out of business” business.

          How do things operate at these “sales”? Everything automatically gets marked at list price, then discounted off of that. Chances are, the items you’re looking at cost just as much, or more than they did before the “sale” started. This is particularly true of the furniture business. I know about this one first-hand – my father-in-law owned a furniture store that he shut down about 2 years ago.

          In addition to the crappy deals on existing merchandise, the liquidator uses the sale as a vehicle to move high-margin items, like oriental rugs or lamps. As an added bonus for your trouble, all sales are final, so no returns.

          The only time I recall getting a good deal at one of these sales was when CompUSA went out. About a week before the doors closed for good, I got a stack of Kaspersky Internet Security boxes for $10 each. These sell online for $60 each. I turned a nice tidy profit selling these on eBay for $40 each.

      • Red Cat Linux says:

        Not so, at least in my experience. I’ve gotten to store closing sales that were like the Ikea commercial where the lady got deals so good she made her husband drive off like they stole it.

        I got an awesome kitchen table at a Scan furniture store closing that is still in use and beautiful almost 15 years later. I got a great deal on stuff at a CVS (big pharmacy chain hereabouts) store closing, and the Linens and Things closing was awesome here.

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      Same thing happened with CompUSA here. The prices in the store were still comparable to other brick and mortar stores in the area, and a tad bit higher still than online stores.

      I guess they are still trying to snag the customers that they made millions on in the past.

    • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

      … and the same at Hollywood Video’s “Store Closing Liquidation” sale here.

      • SonarTech52 says:

        I actually went to my nearest Hollywood and yes, at first the prices were still high. But after a few weeks, the prices kept getting lower and lower. Really good deals at the end there.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      Book stores have no incentive to reduce prices. Unsold books can be returned to the publisher.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      Yeah, same story; when my local Waldenbooks closed a few years back … one of the last I’ve seen, actually, the discounts never got bigger than 25% off, and that was for the Bargain section. The paperbacks were stripped and returned to the publishers, the hardcovers and trade paperbacks were discounted 15% off, and whatever didn’t sell before the deadline was boxed up and shipped back to the distro center.

      It was pretty depressing, actually, the store had a dedicated core of regulars who would come in all the time.

  10. u1itn0w2day says:

    Well , when you let potential customers read books rather than actually buy them this is what happens-you don’t sell them. And no the lattes and danish don’t count.

    • thewriteguy says:

      I wonder if bookstores should initiate a new business plan where they function as private libraries that also sell books — and you can pay a nominal fee to rent a book.

  11. odarkshineo says:

    Maybe borders could charge people to look at the books b4 they go home to order them off amazon. i heard that works…

  12. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    IMO, one of the reasons Border hasn’t done as well as B&N when it comes to brick and mortar stores selling eBooks and eReaders is because B&N has made the store part of the eReader experience, even if it isn’t an essential part of the experience. If I want to, I can take my Nook into the store, get free wi-fi, and sample any book I want for an hour. I can sit down in the comfortable chair and drink a latte.

    • nbs2 says:

      Tell me more about this sampling.

      Our Borders and BN are across the street from each other, and both have cafes and free WiFi, making neither more compelling. The only major differentiating factor is that Borders is in a strip mall and BN is in the mall mall, playing to BNs advantage as well as disadvantage. But sampling – this is interesting.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        With B&N, when you go in with your Nook and connect to the store wi-fi you can read books for up to an hour each day. B&N offers sample chapters (usually the first 20 to 30 pages) of most books for download at any time (you don’t need to be in the store), but I can read a lot more than 30 pages in an hour. If there’s a book I’m really interested in reading, but can’t decide whether I want to buy, those extra pages I can read can make all the difference if I have the time to go into a B&N for an hour.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      So….what you’re doing is basically killing the brick and mortar concept. If us old fashioned folks didn’t actually buy books, a Nook owner would have no store to go to to read books! (Which of course is not your problem or anything, I’m just saying that it’s the equivalent of the cafe peeps in Borders that scoop up 37 magazines and cozy up with their $2 coffee all day and don’t buy anything)

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        No, it’s not like like reading all the magazines and not buying anything. You misunderstood. this is something B&N advertises, and I literally mean “sample” – you log into their wi-fi, and you are allowed one hour a day to read anything in their store, meaning you can go beyond the sample chapters B&N allows you to download for free. See my comment to nbs2.

        I’m not going in there every day for an hour with the goal of reading the same book so I eventually finish the book and don’t have to buy it. I’m just going in to read a book to see whether I want to buy it. If I don’t want to read it, I don’t want to buy it. It’s really not the same as grabbing a bunch of magazines because if I want the book, I’ll buy it.

        For that matter, I’ve never tried reading a whole book an hour at a time, so I don’t know if you can do that. I think B&N would restrict that.

  13. SkokieGuy says:

    Is everyone aware that if you give someone a gift purchased at Border’s, WITH a gift receipt, they will only give a store credit for new-unopened merchandise?

    No refund if requested.

    Another reason not to shop there.

    • malamikigio says:

      aww, well, as a former Borders employee (2003-2005), i can tell you that *sometimes* customers would take books home, read them, and then return them…effectively using the store like a library. it used to annoy us, but when i worked there we’d just take them back anyway (frequently, damaged or not). i think the store got tired of people returning dinged books and having other customers complain about them and getting 10% off as a result. i agree that the policy about not being able to return unopened merch is strange though.

      • malamikigio says:

        or, oops…i think i misunderstood your comment, actually.

      • yaced says:

        Also a Border alum, (1998-2005) borders would take back ANYTHING back in the day. You could take a book home and shit in it, and the managers would be total push overs and give you your money back.

        They wont take back anything anymore, due to their financial situation. They are desperate. A friend of mine who still works there told me their rented helium take was repossessed.

    • synimatik says:

      I returned a book with a receipt for a full refund a week ago, no issues.

    • jackofnight says:

      Makes sense to me if their receipts did not mention how it was paid then store credit is issued.

    • bookstoreguy says:

      Standard practice at most retailers, not just bookstores. Gift receipts only prove point of purchase and confirm price paid for the item. If your gift giver wanted you to get a refund they would have given you the original receipt.

  14. krom says:

    score! that’s my photo. :) Though to be fair, that Borders was moving to better digs across the street.

    (it’s a bit blurry, because i had previously gotten in trouble for taking pics in a closing QFC, and was trying to be sneaky.)

    On the table are stacks of 5-disc CD changers, no doubt used in the listening stations.

  15. anime_runs_my_life says:

    I don’t mind B&N, I really don’t. I just don’t like the idea of having to pay for a discount. Sure you get coupons exclusive to members, but Borders does the same thing, but B&N doesn’t have the bucks (unless that’s changed?). I guess if Borders does go out of business, we’ll start shopping at B&N or just go to Amazon.

  16. Big Mama Pain says:

    They are restructuring finances so that they can buy B & N, which has been in the news for about a month now. Trust me, Borders is not going anywhere-publishers need them just as much as Borders needs books.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704156304576003041857933776.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Kind of, sort of. One of Borders’ investors wants to acquire B&N, but he has a history of having shares in both companies so he benefits greatly from this kind of acquisition. Borders doesn’t have the existing funds to buy B&N; it would all be predicated on this guy’s hedge fund backing the bid, and that’s a lot of money.

    • gman863 says:

      If the publisher wholesales the book to Amazon instead they don’t care.

      On second thought, the publisher does care. At least Amazon will pay them without having to file as a creditor in bankruptcy court.

  17. mbd says:

    When they started charging to participate in their better “rewards” program was the end for me. I do not shop in stores which charge me up front cash for the privilege of paying what their completion regularly charges.

    I used to work for a book wholesaler, and I can tell you that their is close to a 100% markup on books if you pay the cover price.

  18. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I am a Luddite. Are e-book readers just good for text? Are sales of children’s books and books with pictures/diagrams/maps also down?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      There’s really no dent in children’s books right now just because there really isn’t a lot of data. The iPad certainly can handle color books, but the Nook Color only came out in November. One of its main features was the color touchscreen, which facilitates reading children’s books. The books also have a feature that will “read” the book to you, basically turning it into an audiobook. They’re very high quality, too. It’s not a robot voice, it’s a real person reading the book with emotion and inflection.

      As publishers offer more color eBooks with graphics (textbooks, childrens books) we will see more data to see whether color eBooks make any kind of big splash.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Personally, I enjoy reading with my Nook Color more than I do with a regular book. I ride the train and it’s hard to flip pages when you’re holding onto a rail. Also, some of the stations aren’t bright enough to be ideal for reading a book, so I prefer the backlit screen from my Nook Color.

  19. yessongs says:

    They will join Blockbuster in the retail graveyard RIP Borders.

  20. cromartie says:

    While I hate to see another Michigan based company go by the wayside, Borders’ money problems aren’t new news, and this just ratchets the problems up to a disturbing level. They also had two officers resign yesterday (including their General Counsel).

    Do yourself a favor. If you have an outstanding gift card. Use it. Soon.

  21. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    It is sad that waldenbooks won’t honor my otherworlds card any more either.

  22. mythago says:

    I have really mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, yay brick and mortar bookstores and god knows Michigan doesn’t need more companies going out of business. On the other hand, it really seems as though they’ve always been poorly managed and badly run.

  23. luftmenschPhil says:

    I bought a few books at Borders for Hanukkah last month and I have never felt so bad about myself about the purchase. Why? Because the clerk made me feel so guilty by asking… 1) Would I like to “donate a book” for the needy? (No). 2) Do I need a bag (for 3 books)? (Yes), and 3) Would I like to buy a Borders membership card? (No). Those were 3 responses the clerk didn’t like. She sneered and did not thank me for my purchase. It all comes down to customer service!

  24. DeafChick says:

    What they need to do is get rid of the cafes cause the majority of people don’t buy books; they just take them off the shelf, sit in the cafe and read. They need to get rid of their couches, chairs any seating area and discourage people acting like the store is their home.

    I only go to Borders when 1. my favorite author is coming out with a new book and 2. magazines.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      Then change the isles to a one-way maze and force people through like Ikea. A few turnstiles should keep traffic flowing. Train a few pushers and you’re set to reap the profits at the self-checkout stands.

  25. LastError says:

    Pity. The one Borders in my area is really, really nice, much nicer than any local Barnes & Noble. But their problem -not mine- is that I get to a bookstore on average once every 18 months. Stuff I need is generally less costly online.

    Bookstores only win for getting me to buy stuff I didn’t know I wanted. But they gotta get me in in the door first and that does not happen.

  26. BigDave says:

    Brick and Mortar stores are neither bricks nor mortars. Discuss!

  27. gman863 says:

    “We value our relationships with them, which is why we’re engaging in discussions with them,” a Borders spokesperson told NYT. “We’re committed to working with our vendors as part of our overall effort to refinance.”

    I think the last company to make this big a deal about vendor meetings was Circuit City.

    Buh-bye Borders.

  28. sendbillmoney says:

    My local Borders became living death for me when they’d 1) routinely only man one of their three registers, and 2) back that line up by pimping the Borders Rewards program and, if they got a taker, going through the sign-up process. A TSA groping line would be faster, and at least I’d get my goodies juggled.

  29. haggis for the soul says:

    Is this why they stopped emailing me coupons?

  30. PNW GIRL says:

    I’m in Border’s all the time! I have a cruz, but still love buying books. It’s always crowded on the weekends, but they have little staff to help the people who seem to have NEVER stepped into a bookstore. I personally think that they should have security for the amount of times I’ve found opened packaging around the store or in the bathrooms. Corporate has NEVER set the stores up to succeed from what I see.

    –long time customer