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.