It's time to start writing epitaphs. Borders is officially dead, announcing this week that it will be shutting down the last of its 399 stores. The saddest part: some 11,000 workers will be losing their jobs, as well.
The cause of death? Ignoring technology for the past decade.
Please refer back to my original posting back in February when Borders announced it would be shutting down about half of its stores at the time in order to save the company. Since then, it has seemed impossible to drive by a strip plaza without seeing the big fire sale placards in the several-too-many Borders chains here in my area of the country. My original posting, "Tone Deaf to Technology" lists the many ways Borders just simply ignored technology over the past decade or so.
To recap quickly; Borders didn't have a eRetail strategy. It didn't make use of business technology to streamline its distribution channels. And, it didn't adapt to the rise of the eBook or the fall of DVD and CD demands.
Borders was hopelessly stuck in 1996. It has now paid the price.
In the world of books, Borders was the Wal-Mart of its niche that ate up independent bookstores and little mom-and-pop used bookstores everywhere.
I have a theory. With Borders gone, maybe some will come back. I believe there's room, especially for the used bookstores, to co-exist with eBooks and Amazon.com. (I'm not forgetting Barnes and Noble, by the way. I just don't think B&N will expand their storefronts to replace Borders.)
Don't get me wrong. I loved Borders. I will miss it. I wish I had a nickel for every hour I browsed around their stores with a coffee. But just as the bookselling landscape changed forever with its success, now it will change again with its failure.
One things remains constant; we all still love our coffee and reading. Too many of us love it, in fact, for our lust of both together not to be met somehow.
I smell a new business model waiting to be born. Any ideas?
P.S. Speaking of books, just in time for returning college students; Amazon has announced a new set of price points on textbooks for the Kindle. Amazon will be discounting eTextbooks for the Kindle by as much as 80 percent (So a $40 textbook now priced at the insanely jacked up price of $200 will only go for $40. This is awesome! And, no, I'm not being sarcastic speaking as someone who remembers my textbook bill being larger than my tuition fees at UT back in the 80s.) Amazon will also be renting textbooks. Now, if only colleges and universities could do their part to make higher education more affordable.