The fat lady has sung for Borders

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The fat lady has sung for Bordershttp
19 July 2011
Today was supposed to be zero-hour for Borders. Today was supposed to be when the auction for the company began — they’d had an offer, that had been outbid by another offer from two liquidators, and today we were to learn whether anyone wanted to try to outbid the liquidators and kept the company alive. It didn’t seem likely, but Borders had nothing to lose by waiting to see. And indeed, there were rumors throughout the day — as this Reuters wire story reports — that Books-a-Million was interested in buying as many as fifty stores.

But in the baffling way of Border’s executive corps, they decided not to wait, and threw in the towel last night, with a statement saying it had told the bankruptcy judge it wanted to get it over with. Said about-to-be-unemployed CEO Mike Edwards,

“Following the best efforts of all parties, we are saddened by this development. We were all working hard toward a different outcome, but the head winds we have been facing for quite some time, including the rapidly changing book industry, [electronic reader] revolution and turbulent economy, have brought us to where we are now.”

As a New York Times report notes, liquidators Hilco and the Gordon Brothers Group will most likely begin closing the company’s remaining 399 stores — and firing Borders’ remaining 10,700 employees — as soon as Friday.

Even the company’s ebook-reading-device partner Kobo seemed eager to wash its hands of Borders. As a Forbes Magazine report notes, Kobo issued a statement saying,

“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.”

And just like that, it was over.

Good luck to the staffers who now find themselves out of a job. We thank you for supporting our books for all those years, and for your hard work on behalf of book culture. We wish you the very best of luck. Hang in there.

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