The upcoming closing of Borders has me, to quote John Cage from Ally McBeal, “fraught.” I never dreamed that such a massive book chain could cease to exist. Poof! Now where will I go to fill my shopping basket with books while I drink a chai?
I know this doesn’t signal the end of the brick and mortar bookstores, but in my area, Borders is the most convenient one for me. Sure, there’s a Barnes & Noble, but it’s farther, out of the way, and in an area I don’t often find myself. I will inevitably end up going there, but probably less frequently. I suspect some people will find themselves in a similar situation.
I read that the last time Borders showed a profit was in 2006.* Is the public buying fewer books – especially here in the States amid the financial crisis – or are they buying from other vendors? Certainly Amazon has to have impacted Borders’ bottom line as well as the rise in ebook sales, which accounts for 9% of all book sales.*
Now I suppose the big question is how is the closing of Borders going to impact the publishing industry? Borders accounted for about 15% of book sales in North America last year.* It remains to be seen whether those buyers will turn to other local stores, an online retailer, ebook downloads, or simply read less, especially if they no longer have a bookstore close to where they live.
As for me, I could never read less, and I can practically hear a bunch of you die-hard readers shouting the same thing. The casual reader though… will they buy only the bestsellers because that’s what they’ll find at the grocery store, Wal-Mart, or the price clubs? That’s fine – keep buying books any way you can, people! – but I suspect it will become more difficult to discover new writers unless the reader goes out of the way to do so.
What do you think? How will Borders’ closing impact you? Come and join the conversation at my blog.
* I found these statistics in articles on the internet, and I’m taking the posters’ word for their accuracy.