Does Borders Bankruptcy Signify the End of Physical Bookstores?
While many agree that it is still too soon to predict how or if Borders will rebound—"We are confident ... a successful reorganization can be achieved, enabling Borders to emerge from the process as a stronger and more vibrant bookseller," said Edwards—and how this development will affect the book publishing and retailing landscape moving forward, industry insiders and experts still are speculating.
Dan O'Connor, managing editor of independent publisher Melville House, took to the company's "MobyLives" blog to react to the Borders news. "As the share of the brick-and-mortar retail market erodes—stores close. As stores close, and as consumers desert printed books for digital formats, the market for printed books further contracts," he wrote. "The end of mass production of printed books, however, does not depend on their complete abandonment in favor of e-readers. Printed books are costly to produce. Sooner, rather than later, the dwindling number of brick-and-mortar stores will not be buying enough 'offline' books from publishers to justify the expense of printing, binding and shipping them."
Walhstrom believes that reinvention is the key for Borders and other booksellers with brick-and-mortar stores. "I think, as we look ahead, we're going to have the Barnes & Nobles and the Borders and the independent booksellers continue to strive for creating a reason for the customer to come in, and being able to offer that customer a specialized, unique, maybe proprietary product that they cannot get elsewhere, as if it's a commodity business," he says. "If you're just looking to buy the next best-seller, you can get it at a newsstand, at a CVS, a Walgreens, Target, Costco or Wal-mart. Or, you can go online to Barnes & Noble's, Borders' or Amazon's [websites]."
"I want to see how Borders will turn up the volume on its own presence, even though its store footprint is shrinking. I'm also really, really interested in seeing how independent bookstores as well as Barnes & Noble step in to try to attract the buyer who still values bookstores as a physical destination, especially the independent bookstores that have outlasted the Borders stores in their neighborhoods ...," says Norris.