The collapse of the book retail empire Borders, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday, is weighing heavily on the minds of many business leaders and observers. Though it came as a surprise to no one following the issue, the company’s stated plan to close 200 stores nationwide over the next few weeks kick-started a discussion of what went wrong and what it means for the publishing industry and business in general.
1) Authors showing up for scheduled signings only to be asked by the manager, "Is that tonight?"
2) Authors going into a store to sign copies of their book, a sales clerk discovering several in-store per the computer system, and then waiting an hour as the clerk ran around unable to find them. "They are here somewhere . . ." was the constant refrain. "They are in the system." The books were never found.
3) Authors showing up for a scheduled signing only to discover that Borders had not ordered books for the signing even though they informed our staff they had done so.
4) Authors showing up for a scheduled signing only to discover that Borders ordered books for the event, had not put them out in advance, and then could not find them!
The list is longer, but you get the point. We had 3-4 authors who had these issues over and over and over in stores spread across the country. What are the odds this happened only with these few titles? Now, how many people looking for how many books over how many years have been unable to purchase them because of something rotten inside this chain?
Now, can you guess how this company is doing financially?
Stay tuned for more updates. And no, this is not good news for publishers or book readers.