So you can read my books

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


The Borders Group, the bankrupt 40-year-old bookseller, said on Monday

that it will move to liquidate after no last-minute savior emerged for the company.

Borders will begin closing down its remaining stores as soon as Friday, and the liquidation is expected to run through September.

Publishers were disheartened but hardly surprised by the announcement, as they have watched Borders's troubles deepen for years. According to Bowker, a research organization for the publishing industry,

Borders accounted for 13 percent of the overall market share for print books in 2010. By July, that had dwindled to less than five percent, several large publishers said.

Barnes & Noble has fared better than Borders but after putting itself on the selling block close to a year ago, the company has only seen lukewarm interest.

Barnes & Noble has seen its book sales drop steadily, but had one major survival advantage over Borders with its Nook digital reader.

While the Nook isn't quite as popular as Amazon's Kindle, it has steadily brought in income for the slumping company.

But with news of the official collapse of Borders, even though it had been in the works for some time, Barnes and Noble might be wise to finally accept Liberty's offer.

While some could speculate that the loss of competition would be good for the company, it also could show that the market has completely dried up.

Borders Group Inc has entered talks to sell a small number of stores to retailer Books-A-Million Inc while hundreds of its other locations would be liquidated.

What does that mean for us as writers? Is America becoming a non-reading market? How will we fare in the eBook market? What will this mean to our chances with agents?
Tell me what you think?


  1. I think this has more to do with e-books, and online retail than it does with people giving up reading. Of course I have no hard data to back that up.

    Either way, it's still sad, because the people who worked at Borders were great people.

  2. This is very sad news. Both for employees of book stores and book lovers everywhere. I also think this comes from booming ebook sales but even though I own a Nook, I still prefer hard copy books to the digital edition. I'm hoping and praying that many people are like me and can appreciate what ebooks are doing for people, but that real physical books are where its really truly at. It's incredible sad to think that if I ever get a book published it may not ever see the shelf of a library or bookstore. Disheartening. :(

  3. I think America just doesn't have much extra money to spend at the moment. Most people would rather spend 99 cents or 2.99 on an ebook rather than 19.99 on a new release. The appetite hasn't gone away it's just what people are eating that has changed slightly.

  4. I couldn't believe when I heard the news. How sad. It feels like the Earth is rearranging itself. Things are changing everywhere. All we can really do is stay strong and be ready to land on our feet. Riding the tides of change is one of humanities fortes. :)

  5. This is terribly sad but I don't think it's the end of books, just a shift in the industry. People don't need physical book stores as much anymore, not with the internet. I order almost 90% of the books I buy online. I think a lot of people do. I think B&N will stick around because they have a great web presence and the Nook. But their physical stores, who knows.

  6. Every time I go to get a book at my local Border's it must be ordered. I can that myself from home.
    Publishers and big chains wanted it all. Now they are left with little or nothing. It's never good to be too sure of yourself.
    Big houses will publish big writers and little houses will publish others. Basically very little difference than previously.

  7. I posted on a similar topic today, but my emphasis was on publishers. I hate to see the big box stores go down, but truly, the only thing they're good for is browsing the remainder stacks for outdated bestsellers and miscellaneous non-fiction. Gone are the days you might stroll the stacks and discover a new author.

    I don't think the loss of Borders, or the potential loss of B&N, has anything to do with a decrease in American readers. What it does suggest is that readers are getting their bestsellers (which is pretty much all the chains stock) someplace else, most likely Amazon.

    Here's the problem: big box brick and mortar stores offer nothing the reader can't get faster and cheaper elsewhere. For example, I recently ordered a book overnighted from B&N. It was overnighted, but it took them five days to get it into overnight mail. It arrived too late. Had the book been available via Amazon (in this rare case it wasn't), I'd have had it the next day. Moreover, it likely would have been discounted.

    We live in a want it now society. He who delivers fastest and cheapest shall be the victor. Amazon has proven that.

    I hope and pray some independent bookstores survive because they offer unique services: support for writers, a place to browse, and personal service that Amazon can't touch.

    I don't see that Borders closing has much to do with agents. It's the fact that publishing houses aren't buying because they're scrambling to adapt to market changes that is affecting agents.

  8. Matthew :
    Yes, eBooks probably are a major factor. But Amazon is even a greater factor like VR wrote. The publishing industry is changing. And like witht the industrial revolution, innocent people will suffer.

    Chasing Empty Pavements :
    I, like you, feel for the now unemployed workers. I, like you, love to walk the aisles of bookstores. Thanks for visiting and chatting.

    Johanna :
    You're right. We don't have as much free, expendable cash as we used to. We must budget more tightly now. Movie theaters may be the next to feel the pinch -- right after BLOCKBUSTER. Ouch.

    Laila :
    You're right. Humanity will survive this flip/flop of icons and economical woes. But the ride won't be fun! LOL.

    Heather :
    For the same reasons you give, I fear for our libraries. I still walk down the aisles of the libraries, looking for a title I would have found no other way.

    GigglesAndGuns :
    You're right about the greed, arrogance, and short-sightedness of vast corporations. The dinosaurs thought they would rule the world forever. Times changed. They could or would not. They died.

    VR :
    Borders closing is a reflection of a changing market with fewer outlets for publishers to sell to. They, in turn, are loathe to buy, which in turn, makes agents very loathe to pick up an unknown.

    To that extent, Borders closing has to do with agents.

    If Amazon becomes the only true source for publishers besides a weakened B & N, Amazon may become not so consumer-friendly anymore as NETFLIX recently demonstrated.

    Monopolies usually end up hurting the consumer. I am concerned about that. But the collapse of the U.S. dollar, the bird flu, or renewed terrorist activity may push that concern right off the stove!

    I still discover new authors by just walking and browsing the bookstore aisles, looking for a title or a colorful cover that catches my eye. I, too, would miss the smell of coffee, a ready chair to sit and browse my latest discovery -- the meeting of old book-loving friends.

    The death of the local bookstore would deny us that.

    Thanks for visiting and chatting, Roland

  9. Hi,

    Over here in the UK Borders downfall doesn't affect the book buying public, but we do have book store chains "Waterstones and W.H. Smith" both of which are under pressure from Tesco's online & in-supermarket book store alongside Amazon UK.

    But, the downfall of Borders will have an effect on the conglomerate publishers, who market best-selling authors on both sides of the Pond! Meantime second-hand book stores are holding their own on selling "returns" unsold books the big publishers get back from chain-stores and promptly send for paper recycling or sell off in cheap lots.

    Taking into account the above I'm guessing lit agents will be falling by the wayside as more and more publishers up their e-book output and create direct selling from websites and via Amazon: as they do already. In time, the largest publishers, too, will either downsize or crumble.

    For indies that will be the big turning point: a level playing field. But, if Indies ban together under "one advertising logo" they could, even now, create waves!!!

    At the moment Indies are struggling to get word out through individual blogs and other media outlets, their very individuality leaving them single in a world of large multiple imprints that are housed under one roof per publisher!!!

    If Indies merge they become one voice! Simple... ;)


  10. Just a little different line of thought:

    The closing of Borders might give some local independent book stores a little more business and breathing room. Those that survived the onslaught of the Big Box Stores rising have to have been pretty solid to still be in business, and they'll need all the help and support they can get surviving ebooks and online ordering sites such as

  11. Americans like convenience and technology. Still reading... just digitally now.
    While I love books, I have a perverse satisfaction at watching these big guys tumble.
    Publishers and purveyors of the written word have taken advantage of writers for a long time-- and have shaped the "accepted" form of literature long enough. Packaged, formula, "marketable" tripe, much of it. When big biz feeds on and controls the creative process we all lose.
    At least now we can get a book for $2.99 and it doesn't have to be awesome or take up shelf space...
    The field is being leveled for all aspiring authors. Now to be judged on their own merit and not on who they know or what the "popular market" says. Reaching a broader, global market-- most likely finding a fan base of some kind.
    The future could be kinda interesting-- there are a lot of voices out there. (=

  12. Francine :
    I believe you are right. It is soon to be the Era of the Indie. But shake-up's like this seem to hurt all the wrong people.

    I believe Nathan Bransford saw the handwriting on the wall for literary agents as a whole and opted out to be an author full-time!

    Terry :
    I was an independent book store owner for over 10 years. It is hard to go toe-to-toe with the massive discounts afforded the huge chains who can buy well below what small bookstore owners have to pay. But we will see if now things will change.

    Jo :
    Like you, I am glad to see the publishers feel a bit of pain, but there is caution whispering within me. Print books have to be published somewhere. And the printing process plants have to be maintained. Will the Indie market provide them enough money to maintain or build new plants?

  13. So sad...

    I miss my borders so much. I hope that B and N will hang in there.

    Many people still prefer to read actual books. Let's hope readers will continue read hard copies.

  14. Hi Roland .. I know, not to have a book store in town will be terrible - I'm not sure how things will pan out ..

    We have to have books .. they can't all be on line and read on a screen ..

    I've been investigating a re-print of a book a cousin self-published in 1994 .. oddly enough here in Eastbourne .. she lives on Vancouver Island!

    The Print on Demand company she's thinking of using is expanding! .. text books, professional ones and the glamour books - eg "That Wedding the Brits got Royalled" about recently!

    We have books sold out of supermarkets, garden stores and 'outlets' ... glossy and cheaper books, reference ones etc ..

    There was an outcry a few years ago when Oxfam started selling books - because it took 2nd hand books away from 2nd book stores ..

    Book fairs/festivals are still happening ...

    Not sure but there's a lot of evolving going on ..

    Cheers for now .. Hilary