Monday, November 30, 2009

Sad news: British Borders goes bust

Starting in the 1980s, "big box" bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Borders pushed small mom-and-pop bookstores out of business because the small stores could not match the prices and selection. Now, ironically, the big stores are suffering, too.

The last few years have been tough for all bricks-and-mortar booksellers. Sales were dropping because of increased competition from online sellers, and the recession made it even worse.

The Borders chain in the U.K. has 45 stores with 1150 employees. Last week the company was placed in "administration" -- the British version of bankruptcy. The stores are for sale, and so is everything in the stores. Discounts range from 20% to 90%. There is bad news for some shoppers, however. Gift cards are being redeemed for just half of face value, even though they were purchased at full price.

Borders opened in the U.K. in 1997 and was originally owned by the American Borders company. The British and Irish stores were sold to a buyout group in 2007. In early 2009 management bought the stores back with borrowed money. (info from