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Tag: bankruptcy

Closing The Book On Borders: Liquidation


Anyone who’s been following the Borders saga is probably not surprised at the news that Borders is closing its remaining stores and liquidating. Like watching the decline of an ailing old friend, I’m somewhat relieved that Borders will soon be out of its misery. All remaining stores may close as early as this Friday.

Goodbye Borders

That Borders execs continued to seek bonuses even as the company sank, seems like some surreal necrophilic episode as this ordeal draws to a close. Much has already been made of the company’s failure to compete with Amazon and the rise of eBooks. But in the end, I think shortsighted, greedy executives killed what was once a great bookstore chain.

The demise of Borders is going to leave publishers with a lot fewer places to sell books and ultimately with a lot less leverage on Amazon. Like Apple was to the music industry, the demise of the large bookstore chain is casting Amazon into a similar role in publishing. If publishers want to stay in business and sell books, they have to play ball with Amazon whether in print or eBook format for the Kindle.

While Barnes & Noble can offer some alternative for publishers right now, it remains to be seen whether or not they themselves will escape Borders’ fate. Reports are that the Nook is doing well versus the Kindle, but the balance of our own eBook sales here at Learncrest points up an enormous Kindle advantage. Titles are moving on the Kindle but not so much on the Nook. And while Barnes & Noble stands to gain Borders customers in places where they have stores nearby, those readers farther away will likely turn to Amazon. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of marketing pitch B&N will make to woo those orphaned readers. Heavily discounted Nooks would be nice!

If anyone had any doubts that the book business had changed forever, they can be sure now. Rest in peace Borders old friend. Rest in peace.

TokyoPop Manga May Be Coming to iPad, Kindle, and Nook Soon

Recent tweets from TokyoPop indicate that the company is in the process of bringing its manga library to the iPad and other eBook readers soon. When asked on Twitter about creating an iPad manga app like competing publisher Viz already has, TokyoPop responded that one was coming soon. And indicated in response to other questions that Kindle and Nook support was also in the works.

TokyoPop eManga Tweets

TokyoPop eManga Tweets

The global recession coupled with the twin challenges of piracy and the transition to eBooks have put a lot of pressure on the publishing industry. The Borders bankruptcy has been particularly hard on small independent publishers who may not be able to easily write off millions of dollars in book shipments that may never be paid for. TokyoPop cited the Borders bankruptcy in its most recent round of layoffs and restructuring.

TokyoPop already sells manga online via Zinio, but the rising popularity of the iPad and the need to make up for losses may be accelerating its move to support additional digital formats. It is not publicly known just how successful iPad manga has been for Viz, but with fewer and fewer places to buy manga at retail, digital may be the only avenue left for growth. For small publishers, digital may be a matter of life or death.

Borders Bankruptcy For The Manga Reader

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Borders is in the final preparations for declaring bankruptcy. When this happens, a lot of Borders bookstores are going to close. Borders currently operates about 650 bookstores and various reports estimate that they will likely close 150 of these. I think, for no reason other than things often being worse than they appear in these situations, that Borders is going to close a lot more stores than that by the time it’s all over.

But what does this mean for the manga reader? Personally, I’ve already made the switch to eBooks whenever a title I want is available in digital format. But many manga title are not currently available in any digital format, at least not legally. So I’ve depended on Borders for much of my print manga for years now because they always had the best and largest selection of titles, including mature ones.

After reading a bit of speculation on what the surviving Borders would look like on Japanator, I think the prospects for print sales of manga are rather bleak indeed. Between a smaller Borders chain only offering the most popular manga titles and Barnes & Noble maintaining its quick return policies and a ban on mature titles, that seemingly leaves Amazon as the winner in all of this. Or does it?

Manga publishers in Japan and their U.S. licensees have been fighting a seemingly losing battle against illegal manga scans, scanlations, on the web. Initially, many, if not most, of the illegal scans consisted of series that had little hope of being distributed in the U.S.. But the growth of the internet soon saw even those popular titles licensed in the U.S. easily available on a number of web sites for all to download for free.

Some of the highest profile scanlation sites have been closed down, but many remain and are relatively easy to find for the most popular manga titles. There are even scans of manga showing up as YouTube videos! By contrast, there are still few popular manga titles available in eBook format for eReaders like the Kindle or Nook. The number of popular titles is growing on the iPad, but few of the largest part of the manga buying demographic, teens and college students, own iPads. A growing number of popular manga are also readable on publisher web sites in a web browser where they must compete head to head with the often easier to read (i.e. no Flash or DRM required) illegal scanlations.

Against this backdrop, it isn’t clear that Amazon will be the clear winner as retail bookstore availability of manga decreases. It seems likely that at least some frustrated manga readers will turn to the grey market for their manga fix unless publishers and booksellers give them an easy way to get manga legally. For now, I’ll probably buy from Amazon because there are no longer any nearby bookstores that carry the titles I want and the selection available at anime conventions is haphazard at best. My hope is that in 6 months I’ll be writing about how all of the major manga publishers have released their titles in all of the popular eBook formats.

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