Having received no proposals from “going concern” bidders, Borders Group plans to close the entertainment retailer’s 399 outlets, subject to the approval of a U.S. bankrputcy court.
Some stores and facilities could close as soon as July 22, with Borders expecting to complete the liquidation by the end of September. The loss of brick-and-mortar retail space is not without ramifications for book and magazine publishers, not to mention DVD and Blu-ray marketers; news of the liquidation, however, hardly comes as a surprise to the industry.
“We were all working hard towards a different outcome, but the headwinds we have been facing for quite some time, including the rapidly changing book industry, eReader revolution, and turbulent economy, have brought us to where we are now,” said Mike Edwards, Borders Group president, in a statement. Edwards related similar sentiment in a letter to the company’s 10,700 employees obtained by The Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, Kobo, the e-reader company with whom Borders had partnered, continues to assume direct support of Borders customers’ e-book accounts. Following Borders’ liquidation announcement, Kobo reiterated its corporate independence from the chain in a statement to TechCrunch: “As one of the early investors in Kobo, Borders has a minority stake in our company and serves as part of our distribution in the U.S. along with Walmart, Best Buy, Sears and other retailers. As a member of the broader book publishing and retailing community, we are watching Borders’ story with interest and send our best wishes to all the people of Borders.”
Borders Group plans to operate temporary “pop-up” stores in 25 malls nationwide, according to Publishers Weekly. May of the 2,500-square-foot stores — which will operate between Oct. 25 and Jan. 31 — will be in malls where the struggling chain closed a larger retail outlet.
The “Borders Express” stores will stock some 19,000 book, movie, and music titles, with books comprising the majority of that number, Publishers Weekly said. The stores also will stock e-readers, including a wireless version of the Kobo brand device for $139.
Background on the “pop-up” retail trend at the New York Times.
Amazon.com’s Kindle e-reader — which to date has been sold only online and at Target outlets — is expanding its physical retail presence, heading to 1,500 Staples stores this fall. Meanwhile, the Borders bookstore chain is lowering prices on a pair of rival e-reader devices: the Borders-backed Kobo now sells for $129.99, while a device marketed by Aluratek drops to $99.99.
paidContent has more details on programs that Borders, as well as fellow e-reader contender Barnes & Noble, are rolling out in stores to step up competition against Amazon. All Things D, meanwhile, muses that e-reader prices can only drop further.