The news that Borders has filed for bankruptcy and is closing 200 stores (including three in the city) has the publishing industry wondering what is next for the fallen giant. Could wine bars save the sinking ship? Or is Borders on its way to becoming a "lost" chain like Tower Records?
A story in today's Times runs through how the bookseller fell so far so fast (mismanagement, misunderstanding of the internet and e-books, over-reliance on the crumbling CD and DVD market) and looks to some of the options the chain now faces. First things first the company needs to deal with its debts (it flat out stopped paying publishers for their wares in December). Once they've cleared that up—$505 million in financing from GE Capital should help—a number of options present itself.
Probably the most logical would be a merger with Barnes & Noble, an idea that has been floated around for awhile now. In order to get there though the company would first have to shed its "underperforming stores" (hence the 200 closures). And while Barnes & Noble is doing better than its rival, it isn't like it is having the best go of it in this digital age either (the Nook and their online market being the key differences between the two).
But that isn't Borders' only option. They could totally take the bookstore/coffeeshop concept to the next level by bringing in the booze. "In conversations with publishers last year, top executives at Borders said they were confident the troubled company could revamp, even suggesting that some stores would be outfitted with wine bars to offer a more social atmosphere." Because if there is one thing we think our the book shopping experience is lacking it is gaggles of of wine-guzzlers loudly discussing the intricacies of Elizabeth Gilbert's love life.
In the end though, our bet (and, we suspect, the hope of many indie stores) is that the chain, like Tower and Virgin and before it, will be but a long lost memory in the not too distant future. But that's just us. If you had your druthers, how would you save Borders?