Borders to shutter some stores and launch new online retail website.

Borders has been having a rough time in the traditional brick and mortar bookstore business so they’ve just announced a major restructuring:

The Borders Group, one of the nation’s largest book retailers, announced a new strategic plan yesterday to close nearly half of its Waldenbooks stores, sell off or franchise most of its 73 overseas superstores, sever its relationship with Amazon.com and start its own online retail site.

The company also reported a dismal fourth quarter that ended with a loss of $73.6 million, in contrast to a profit of $119.1 million in the period the year before.

“Clearly, our 2006 results were disappointing, as our company and the industry as a whole continued to face a challenging environment,” George L. Jones, the chief executive of Borders, said in a statement. “This performance is not indicative of this company’s many strengths, and it’s not where Borders Group is headed in the long run.”

Not that this means the end of the B&M stores altogether:

The reorganization would put much of the company’s focus on its roughly 500 domestic superstores. A new technology-heavy concept store that has been in development since late 2006 will open in early 2008.

Borders also promised to introduce “digital centers” in its stores that will allow customers to buy audio books, MP3 players and electronic books.

The same article also mentions that rival bookstore Barnes & Noble is struggling with lower than expected revenues as well with a forecast of a loss for the first quarter of this year.

I love Amazon.com, but I do think it would be a shame if all brick and mortar bookstores were to shut their doors. Amazon.com is something I use when I know exactly what I want, but a lot of great books that I’ve found over the years has come from wandering aimlessly through the shelves at a local Borders or B&K and you don’t get quite the same experience from browsing randomly through Amazon.com.

25 thoughts on “Borders to shutter some stores and launch new online retail website.

  1. I’m not surprised, though, that the Waldenbooks outlets are mostly closing.  Smaller stores, in shopping malls, that don’t have the selection of a full-sized Borders or a B&N, nor the convenience of an Amazon (or the online Borders/B&N stores), are doomed.

    Ironically, while I buy a metric ton of stuff from Amazon—my purchases-per-visit are a heck of a lot higher when at a Borders.

  2. My local Waldenbooks always has a much better backlog of ‘tie-in’ books (movie novelizations, Star Wars/Trek novels, etc.) than the much large local Barnes and Nobles. I don’t buy too many of those sorts of novels but when I do hear about an older Star Trek novel that might interest me I know I could find it at Waldenbooks. Sure I could save 20-40% by ordering online, but, for some reason, my B&N and Amazon.com accounts seem to have notes attached to them which tell the people at the warehouse to not use a single bit of packing material for my orders. I have had books arrive totally destroyed from being bounced around in the box. I don’t need to go through the trouble of returning a B&N.com order to a physical store for a replacement when I could just buy the book at any of the four bookstores in my area in the first place (2 B&N, a Waldenbooks, and the indepenent store Schuler Books). Until the online stores stop destroying my orders, I will be using brick & mortar bookstores.

  3. Prior to that announcement, they announced(emailed, actually) locally they were closing the Waldenbooks in the local mall, since there’s a big Borders right outside the mall.  The one in the mall wasn’t one of the hole in the wall ones I’ve seen elsewhere, but still didn’t have the size of the exterior store.  Not to mention a big B&N across the street. 

    Just as long as they keep the Borders open, since that’s what we use our Discover cashback on!

    I guess they had reasons for running two stores that close together.  Blockbuster records certainly seemed to, since at one time they had a mall store plus another across the street.  They closed the mall one about a year or so before they dumped the whole chain. 

    Yep, nothing beats browsing the store to find new stuff.

  4. off topic……however
    Bill Mahr just gave the most damning, scathing, brutal (and imho truthful) critique of the administration to date. Basically he said: new rule!….Those in power and the 29% who still support them can hence forth never question our patriotism. I beg you; remove the plank from thine eye for it blinds you utterly.

    They question our patriotism…and yet… Valerie Plame was a woman who devoted her career and much of her life to this country. They blew her cover to discredit her husband; hoping to save face. Determined not to have their aspirations for war dashed; our “leaders” exposed a covert operative (along with her contacts) to the entire world. Destroying her cover undoubtedly compromised the cover of other agents.

    These dolts with the compliance of their propaganda wing; Hanity, Limbaugh, et al. have stomped on our rights to free speech(free speech zones), freedom from illegal search(airports and Gestapo police tactics}, habeas corpus, and most importantly due process.

    The chimperor has vetoed one solitary piece of legislation that would have advanced stem cell research from what is now pointless research to possibly the most important medical research of our time.

    His next veto will be the bill that halts his ridiculous jaunt to the Middle East.

    They out Americans working on nonproliferation at the covert level. Squander the USAs 200 year status as beacon of hope in the world. They rejoice in the polluting and corrupting of our environment in the name of profit. They taint our independent judiciary system for not “towing the party line”

    They appoint cronies to key positions who fuck up disaster response, ruin education, and try to silence scientists.

    Global warming caused by humans is still being hashed out;but, if you deny evolution you are a F…ing moron.

    These people hate gays, muslims, frenchmen, blacks, “infidels” with malice and STILL claim moral high ground!

    They have turned liberal into an insult for cripes sakes. Liberal defined is an individual who is tolerant, understanding and helpful to even his adversaries plight.

    I for one am proud to be a lib’rul and take great offence to these jackassed, simpleton, holier than thou, hypocritical MFers questioning my grit.

    A blog I frequent says “95% of you are morons”.
    I disagree. I go with the 2
    O;‘s’s observation that 2% of us are smarter that the rest. 1/3 of the remainder hears our arguments and agrees. Roughly 25% are still open to discussion and 1/3 of you are hopelessly stupid.

    Disclaimer
    A madman penned this at 2AM with a bit of a cloudy head.

  5. Not sure what the fuck that comment has to do with Waldenbooks, but whatever…

    The main thing I will miss if Borders closes are their Carmel Apple Smoothies.  I think if any beats sex it is those damn things…

  6. That really sucks. I can’t even fathom our nearby Barnes and Noble closing. I love walking there and spending hours just hanging out, sometimes finishing up to two books in one sitting. I’d much rather do that than shop online, thank you very much.

  7. Not suprised in the least. Can’t remember the last time I was in a Borders or a Barnes and Noble.

    I love book stores, always have, but the big box, new book stores make the whole experience seem to much like a lyfestyle shopping fetish, if that makes any sense. It’s like buying coffee at Starbuck’s, it seems to have more to do with some strange sense of self-satisfaction that people get from being in a “book store”. It’s too fucking sanitized, too clean, too yuppie, too something….

    Give me a good, crowded, moldy smelling used book store any day of the week.

    I’ll buy my new stuff off Amazon and be done with it.

  8. I like having the big stores (both B&N and Borders) nearby, especially when I want to browse technical books.  That way I can find out if it actually has what I’m looking for, or if it’s just a $50 printout of what I get when I hit F1.  Haven’t done that in a while now, easier to google it up.

    Have to admit I’ve felt nervous about sitting and reading for too long in a B&N.  I keep thinking of the Simpson’s where Apu sees the kids reading the magazines and yells “This is not a reading library, make your purchase and get out!”.  Or something like that.

    As far as just browsing for stuff to read, university libraries are pretty damn good places to wander.  Especially when they carry century old encyclopedias, annuals, and magazines on the open shelves.

  9. How any book store with a coffee shop can be hurting is a mystery to me, given the price of a mocha…

    Ditto to what KPG said about the smell of old(er) books.  If they made a cologne for men that smelled like that, I’d probably cheat on my husband.  Call me kinky…  wink wink

  10. If they made a cologne for men that smelled like that

    Watch guys start buying out the clearance section in the used book store. 

    “Read them? No dude, I’m making a chest out them and putting my LoTR shirts in it the week before Comicon.”

  11. When I was in college in the mid-70s, Borders was just a bookstore in a college town (Ann Arbor), good collection of used books priced about right for poor students. Used to spend a lot of time there, sitting on the floor reading with one of their big cats curled up in my lap. I used to go there because there were no good bookstores around my school (Univ. of Detroit & Marygrove). It was a hike and an iffy trip in my very old Pontiac Catalina—but gas was cheap …

    I don’t like the big boxes very much because there aren’t very many people who work there that know books. Mostly (but not all), they’re just clerks who give you a look if you ask them basic questions such as “Where are the web design books?” Heaven forbid they have an OPINION on a book—that would require reading …

  12. Ditto to what KPG said about the smell of old(er) books.  If they made a cologne for men that smelled like that, I’d probably cheat on my husband.  Call me kinky…

    Hmm..Eau de Moisissure* by Madame Livre**.

    It could be done, the fragrance materials exist, but the market niche would be small.

    On second thought…nah…let’s not go there.

    * French for mildew
    ** French for Book

  13. Ditto to what KPG said about the smell of old(er) books.  If they made a cologne for men that smelled like that, I’d probably cheat on my husband.  Call me kinky…

    I third that notion…even though I’m not married.

  14. Our whole bedroom smells of old books….

    Mmmmmmmmm…

    My grandmother has a treasure of a book from the 1690s. It must be handled with extreme care, but it’s pure perfume to this nose.

  15. I went the other way compared to many here. I used to buy ALL (well, 97%) of my books on Amazon when I still lived in a 150,000 people town Germany.

    Now I live in a 1,5 million town in a place where there is no Amazon website (New Zealand), and the local post service (combined with my apartment location) makes getting overseas parcels a dicey proposition – which also always seems to involve long trudging to a mail centre with stupid opening hours.

    So I found Borders, which here in Auckland is located in the most maze-like modern building you have ever seen, winding its way through several floor levels, and various mezzanines. Took me several visits just to find my way, but its great.

  16. Hopefully the quality of the stores won’t suffer when they get sold off/franchised overseas. It would suck if you have to find a new bookstore.

  17. Do they have their own little walkie-talkie system for their stores over in the US as well?

  18. I’m a Waldenbooks manager, and as a Christmas present this year they announced the closing of my store. As of January I’m out of work, and a lot of my loyal customers who don’t like going into the giant cafe/bookstore/video store/music store locations will be disenfranchised. I often heard from customers how they preferred the smaller stores that focused on books alone, and now, thanks to George L. Jones, CEO of Borders, we’re seeing the death of that particular retail experience.

    I’d encourage people to cease supporting Borders, Inc. in light of the shabby way they’re treating their employees (laying off people during the holiday season is pretty low) and their customers (insisting that you need to buy more junk at the register, from candy to CDs to stuffed animals, when all you want is the newest novel from your favorite author). I hate to make such a recommendation, especially since it may lead to other jobs lost, but a message needs to be sent to George L. Jones—That the small bookstore is not the problem.

    In fact, let me point out that the real problem with Borders is the way they treated Waldenbooks stores. We were forced to deal with all the oldest leftover equipment (cash registers and computers from the early 1980s, for example) and were not given the tools, supplies, and stock we requested to improve our stores and make the customer experience a good one. We did our best with what we had, but when customers ask for a gift receipt and we have to tell them we cannot do that because our registers haven’t been updated since 1983, that tends to sour their satisfaction.

    We were constantly given lists of books to scan and return to corporate, only to have those same titles come back three weeks after the return list posted, forcing us to waste labor (and company money) scanning them out of inventory, boxing them, shipping them out, and then scanning these same titles back into inventory, unboxing them, and shelving them all over again. This sort of thing is common in Waldenbooks, and it’s this waste of resources that makes Waldenbooks less profitable—Not the brand name, and not the lack of DVDs or CDs or toys.

    It’s certainly not the people. In my time at Waldenbooks I’ve worked with some of the best people I’ve known. People who love books and know all about them. People who can locate a title based on the scant information given by some customers (“It’s a blue book, and it was on that TV show last week.”)  I’ll put the people in my store up against the employees of any Borders or Barnes & Noble superstore when it comes to book knowledge and customer service.

    George L. Jones essentially came out and said in memos that he didn’t like the Waldenbooks brand, and that he wanted his stores to be more like big department stores that specialize in books, but also push every other kind of non-book merchandise we can get our hands on. He has no love of books. This is clear. George L. Jones wants Borders, Inc. to become the 7-11 of the book business.

    Don’t go to Borders. Support your local mom & pop bookstores instead.

  19. Sounds like he’s been listening to Clyde Anderson over at Books-A-Million. Bigger, better and more junk.

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