Borders Sale Seen As More Likely

Publishers Weekly has reported that the likely sale of ailing bookstore chain Borders in part or whole may be one outcome of recent actions. The bankrupt company has sought court permission to sell some assets that do not have any current lien against them.

I suppose it’s a good thing that I used up my remaining Borders Bucks this morning. Given that rival Barnes & Noble has shown little public interest in acquiring Borders intact or any of its assets, I think any buyout of Borders will be quickly followed by a total liquidation.

The book business has changed. While Barnes & Noble is in better shape, recent actions intended to reduce its interest payments speak to a continuing struggle to stay afloat. It’s hard to say whether B&N would benefit from the loss of Borders, or if Amazon has already done so.

The end of Borders will accelerate the push towards eBooks because of the very real problem of finding a new book bookstore nearby. Faced with the option of waiting several days for a book to come in the mail, or downloading the same book for a few bucks less instantly, many will opt for the eBook.

eBook readers are rapidly moving into sub-$100 range and free eReader software is ubiquitous. Faced with fewer locations to sell physical books, publishers are being forced to sell more eBooks to survive. In particular, I’m sure that they are working very hard to make as much of their back catalogs available in eBook format as possible. They’d better be quick about it too, or someone else will!

With or without Borders, bookstores will survive. But the age of the large bookstore chain seems to be coming to an end. Many of us are going to need some new places to hang out.

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