Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What Went Wrong at Borders

Peter Osnos, The Atlantic: "Let me start with an unequivocal declaration: I hope Borders finds the means to avoid bankruptcy, or worse, liquidation. The immediate consequence of a Borders default on what it owes publishers would be a cash short-fall of millions of dollars. Even the most profitable publishers have limited leeway to deal with months of unpaid bills. The irony is that the surge in e-book sales across many platforms, the popularity of reading devices and tablets, some effective re-tooling at Barnes & Noble and the stronger independents, plus the continuing growth of Amazon actually have improved the overall outlook for the book business — which would take a considerable hit if the country's second-largest book chain goes under. Borders management is scrambling to get new financing and is soliciting publishers to accept bonds instead of payment. Will that strategy work? My guess is that most publishers want Borders to survive, and will find ways to keep it going at least for a while. But the longer term prospects for Borders — with 674 stores (many already scheduled to be closed) — remain, at best, a major challenge. ..."