Borders Books in big trouble

If you received a Borders gift card for Christmas and haven’t redeemed it yet, now would be a good time.

Borders Group, Inc., is running out of cash.  They recently stopped paying their bills, and various publishers have duly stopped shipping them new books.  Borders is closing one of its three national distribution centers, and has laid off executives.  More retail store closures are likely.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a potential deal is in the works to secure financing for Borders so they can stay in business, but nothing is certain.  Shareholders have been hammered by a collapse in the company’s stock price.  (If you can’t read the WSJ article, here is more press coverage: Detroit News; Salt Lake Tribune; NPR)

Borders, like all brick-and-mortar booksellers, has been under siege for years by online retailer amazon.com, declining sales overall, and now the surging popularity of ebooks.  Unlike amazon (with its Kindle e-reader) and Barnes & Nobles (with the Nook e-reader), Borders has failed to establish a strong presence in ebooks with its own reader (the Kobo).

Sad news for readers who love to browse the shelves and settle in those comfy Borders recliners…  On the positive side, if Borders goes bye-bye, it may open opportunities for a resurgence by independent booksellers, who have been even more severely afflicted by industry changes.

I redeemed my last Borders gift card a few days ago and advise you to do the same.

Update:  1/25/2011 Detroit News agrees

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