It’s been said that a good book has no ending. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said about bookstores themselves.
Borders, the bookstore chain that helped pioneer book-superstores that up put many local bookshops out of business, announced it plans to close about 200 superstores over the next few weeks and filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday, indicating that they did not “have the capital resources it needs to be a viable competitor.”
Once thought to be the future of bookselling, Borders has struggled as volumes of competitors – from Barnes & Noble to Wal-Mart – have taken away share-of-market and customers. The need for bankruptcy protection was not helped by the fact that Borders was late: late acknowledging the impending decline in bookstore sales of music and DVDs, late to the Web, and late bringing e-tailing into their marketing mix. Compounding all that, a decade ago Borders contracted out their e-commerce business to Amazon.com, and a decade later were late acknowledging the inertia of electronic books.
There was a time when we tracked Bookstores in our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. We modified that to acknowledge the migration of consumers to On-line Booksellers, which, in order to recognize the more recent changes in consumer behavior and category dynamics, now appears as “E-Readers.”
Currently, according to the 2011 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, e-readers rank as follows:
Amazon, the creator of the #1 ranked Kindle, reported that this month that for every 10 physical books sold, they sell six of the same titles for the Kindle.
A prompt Borders restructuring might help win new financing and might be able to delay insolvency, so there may be some hope for the brand. After all, wasn’t it Oscar Wilde who wrote, “nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending?”