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The Borders endgame

I’ve written my Borders eulogies some months ago, here and here (and indeed here).  Since then, Australasia has mostly folded up, and the US parent has been reeling and writhing through store closures, executive bonuses, stalking horses and an extended death march.

However, this week’s announcement that the most plausible solution for the rump is a sale to a Gordon Brothers/Hilco consortium for $215m suggests that final liquidation cannot be far away.

Borders has been in trouble for so long that its obituary has been written countless times.  I hope it will be remembered for its successes and its unique contribution to bookselling – at its best, it was less “corporate”, and more in touch with the communities it served, than Barnes & Noble or most of Waterstone’s recent iterations.  It wasn’t a bad idea from the get-go, like Edsel or New Coke, but it was structurally vulnerable to change, and it made missteps that compounded into big strategic errors.

The Economist published an excellent piece a couple of weeks ago, which ended up saying:

The market is squeezing out a meaningful public space. It will be interesting to see what fills the void these bookstores leave behind.

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