Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Borders Bankrupt and...what else?

I am saddened but not surprised to hear about Borders declaring Chap 11 Bankruptcy. Last year I wrote a post about Borders here, about how they support local authors. The Borders in my area willingly hosted signings for myself and other WiDo authors, then bought copies of our books to stock on their shelves. They purchased them from the publisher rather than expecting the author to cut them a deal as some small bookstores are now doing.

When Barnes & Noble was in trouble awhile back, I cheered. I had always shopped there as a consumer but as an author, they didn't give me the time of day. So I stopped buying books there and instead drove 30 miles to Borders.

When I went on tour for Farm Girl one of the bookstore owners at a local shop in Hastings, Nebraska said that Amazon had really hurt his business. That was 4 years ago. I'm not sure his store is even still in business. Again, it's Amazon. Think Kindle. Think ebooks. Think free enterprise system. Think video rental stores-- Redbox, Netflicks. Anyone been to Hollywood Video lately?

Yes it's sad when your favorite bookstore closes. (I'm hoping our Borders is one that stays.) But is anyone really that surprised? It's been happening to the little guys for some time, and apparently the big box bookstores are not immune either.

So this makes me wonder what other huge changes are in the works for the publishing industry in the very near future? Agents quitting? Publishers closing their doors? The Big Six going POD? What do you think-- predictions anyone?


32 comments:

  1. It's scary, that's for sure! I think the music publishing industry is a pretty good road map to where publishing is heading. It's sad...

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  2. Hey Karen I came from Stephen's blog and made a big comment. So sad about Borders in the US. We have a huge Borders in Brisbane which is always amazingly busy, plus we have umpteen indie book stores. Reading is hot property in Oz, despite our Okker image. It'll be the US economy pulling Borders down I guess. It will probably lead to Oz Borders closures too, even though our economy is pumping!

    Denise:)

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  3. Wow, that is sad. And as far as I know, there aren't any indie stores around where I live....I miss that.

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  4. Just left Stephen and here is what I said, "I think this is just the tip of the iceberg here in the US. We are all about convenience and ebooks are convenient. Personally I'm finding it rather blinding trying to read on a PC or an iPad. But that is just me. I want the feel of paper, the ability to turn down pages and make notes and redrawn the cover art :)"

    The bottom line is $$$ whatever makes the most.
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

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  5. I hope books don't stop getting published. Reading Ebooks hurts my eyes! Plus the poor can't afford Ereader devices :(

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  6. Suz, Yeah I'm still saving my pennies for a Kindle!

    Jules, Thank you for repeating your comment. It is a good one. I love paper. I think print books will be around for awhile but probably bought online not in bookstores.

    Also, I changed my post title because Ch. 11 doesn't necessarily mean that all the Borders are closing, but that the court now is in charge of paying their bills. Which means that publishers will get paid just pennies on the dollar of what they are owed, books returned, yadayadayada.

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  7. I believe there are many changes the publishing industry will undergo in the future, some not so pleasant.

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  8. In the time I've been serious about writing (only 3f years now) I'm amazed at the changes. The gatekeeper mentality is changing, and there are oodles of opportunities for writers. I'm sad to hear of bookstores closing, but I'm not surprised.

    I haven't stepped foot in a video store in years, and now I don't even buy DVDs. Netflix delivers to my small country town, and it's perfect for us.

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  9. There is actually a website that you can look up which ones will be closed. The one where I live is closing and all the ones in Chicago.

    I hate to say it, but I do go to Barnes & Noble because I like walking around with a Starbucks in hand like the yuppie 23 year old that I am. Of course I actually buy my books on Amazon...soo...not sure what that says about me?

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  10. I hope the Borders in Manassas, Virginia doesn't close. I have a grandson-in-law who works there. But I've been wondering WHEN this was going to happen. There are so many bookstores and other businesses struggling in the U.S. I'm now going to check out the website that Magan mentions (above).

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  11. I love my local Borders and it always appears to be busy. I hope it survives.

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  12. When you look at the losses publishers will incur as a result of this, it will definitely impact the industry:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-16/borders-book-chain-files-for-bankruptcy-protection-with-1-29-billion-debt.html

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  13. I think that the trouble with Borders was that it lost a great deal of profits when people started buying iTunes instead of CDs, and Netflix instead of DVDs. It's sad because I've always liked Borders. I like that it has a wide selection of books and DVDs and it has a great cafe. And the sellers have always been very helpful to me.

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  14. I also just came from Stephen's blog about this same topic. It's depressing in a way and it's not just bookstores. Things are changing in many markets and I guess we all just have to adapt. But I'd hate to see a day when there were no bookstores to hang out in.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  15. Oh I find it ever so depressing when bookshops shut and slightly scary when it's the big ones that closes doors. I just feel for those about to be made jobless and for the general economy. I'm hoping that the future will be brighter and that new shops or their replacements will arrive (e.g. a big music shop here called Fopp closed a few years ago but has now returned albeit in a smaller capacity and attached to waterstone's book shops).

    Take care
    x

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  16. I am sad to say that I think we will all be reading on our e-readers within the next 10 years because it will be the only way we can read.

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  17. I read an article today about the kind of money Borders owes publishers-- they owe Penguin $41 million. So maybe Penguin can absorb these costs, but what about smaller publishers who might be waiting for payment of $41 thousand so they can stay in business? When any bookstore closes there are publishers left holding the unpaid bills. When one of this magnitude closes, it's hard to think of what kind of repercussions this will bring to the industry. Combine it with the Ch. 11 restructuring of Barnes and Noble last year, and this means big changes for the publishing and selling of books.

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  18. I think one thing that is inevitable is that advances from traditional publishers will be much smaller.

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  19. Karen -- That sounds ominous about the amounts owed to the publishers. If Borders manages to emerge okay the publishers should be fine, but the question remains as to the health of the bookselling business as a whole. Maybe the combination of technology, economy, and changing consumer habits are going to be devastating to the publishing industry. Now's the time for authors to be devising some good recipes for new kinds of lemonade.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

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  20. I'm afraid it's a sign of the times. It's hard to compete with $10. and under for ebooks. Plus the convenience of ebooks.

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  21. L'Aussie mentioned our Borders chain. They've actually been independent of the US parent for a while because they were sold to help with the US cashflow problem.
    Ironically it hasn't saved ours because Angus and Robertson (the Aussie chain that bought them) just filed for bankruptcy too.
    So we are facing the potential loss of Borders and our Biggest book retailer at the same time.

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  22. I have no idea what's coming next, but I share your sadness about Borders' bankruptcy. I normally go to the one in downtown Milwaukee and yesterday I heard that it's going to close in April. I can't imagine that neighbourhood without it. How sad! I love to lose myself in it, browsing books and literary journals... so I share your despair but I have no words of wisdom here.

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  23. It's always sad when a favorite place goes but I like to be optimistic. I believe the little guy will see a come back. I think that if the small book store can incorporate some of the charm that the big ones offered, reading chairs and coffee there might be hope. What is needed is a place that people who love books can congregate. Amazon cannot offer that.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

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  24. I am very sad at this development. I hope the Borders in my area is not shut down. A trip to Borders has always been my little pick me up. When I get that feeling that life is a little to hard a few hours in Borders makes my world brighter.

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  25. I don't even want to speculate how far this will go. Luckily, my Borders in Cambridge will stay, but the Boston one is closing. The Boston one was strange because it had a pretty small children's book section.

    Does it really mean book sales are down? I know ebooks are up, but regular books are still selling too. I wonder if it's more about Amazon and then people trying to promote their indies that has left Borders in the dust. One thing I'm going to do is try to go to my local Borders more often.

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  26. I'm sad to hear this. One of my favorite Borders closed last November. It wasn't even that close by, but it was the closest to me. I have to go out of my way to go to one, and I'd rather save gas by ordering online since I have free shipping.

    I have a blog award for you.

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  27. My heart ached when I heard the sad news about Borders filing for bankruptcy. I am still nervous about all this transition toward eBooks. I am not ready to give up on touching the paper and smelling the ink.

    Doris

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  28. I just heard about Borders. :( So are they still staying in business and keeping a few stores?

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  29. PS. My wordpress profile isn't working again. XD

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