Borders says goodbye – What does this mean for the industry?

After filing for bankruptcy back in February, Borders Books is officially throwing in the towel.

Their remaining 400 stores will be closing.

As a reader, this news saddens me. Even though I’m living in Japan, I was buying physical books from both BN and Borders, since they ship to APO/FPO addresses. From a public relations/marketing/business standpoint, however, I can’t say I’m very surprised at the news.

Borders has been in trouble for awhile, so it’s not shocking that they are finally deciding to liquidate the company and shut their doors for good.

They just didn’t catch on to the changes in the industry quick enough. Everything is going digital, and unlike Amazon and BN, Borders waited too long to hop on the eReader bandwagon.

Regardless of whether you are an eReader only person, a physical book only person or a hybrid like me (I get some authors on eBook and others (mostly my favorites) I will buy the physical book), it’s undeniably clear: ebooks are making a huge splash in the industry. If you can’t accept those changes or accept them too late, as a business, you are only setting yourself up to fail.

And that, in my opinion, was Borders great downfall. Amazon has the Kindle and has had it since the beginning of the eBook revolution. BN has the Nook. Even non-bookstore companies, like Sony, have their own brand of eReader and their own online eBook store.

Borders has/had the Kobo, but the Kobo came too late to make a difference for Borders.

But the lack of a strong eReader presence wasn’t Borders only problem.

They spread themselves too thin — they weren’t just a bookstore. Between DVDs, CDs, boardgames, stationary, posters, toys and even clothes, they had their hand in too many cookie jars to pay attention to their bread and butter: books. And if BN isn’t careful, the same could very well happen to them in a few years.

As a reader, I don’t like seeing toys, games, DVDs and CDs in my bookstore. If I wanted a toy, I’d go to a toy store. I go to a bookstore because I want a book. It’s that simple. The branch out to DVDs and CDs wouldn’t be too bad of a stretch — if it were limited to audiobooks or DVDs based off of books. But come on, clothing?  I don’t care that the shirt is the cheap marketing trick of publishers to make more money off of Twihard teens — clothes don’t need selling in a bookstore.

So what exactly does Borders closing their doors mean for the industry?

It’s a little too early to tell, I think, but one thing is for sure: other players in the industry, whether they are big chains or indie stores, cannot afford to ignore the eBooks.

Everything is going digital, and in another decade, it’s entirely possible that the only physical books will be books by the best-sellers. I hope that’s not the case, but it’s a definite possibility. It’s like the changeover from VHS to DVD. For awhile, people hung on to their massive VHS collections, but eventually the DVD triumphed.

The bottom line is, from a business standpoint, eBooks make more sense for both publishers and authors. They are cheaper to make, require no shipping and in the end provide more profit.

Change isn’t bad, but like with any changing industry, if you don’t adapt, you won’t survive.

What are your thoughts on Borders closing and the changing book industry? Do you own an eReader?

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