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Front Page Talking Points

FOR THE WEEK OF JULY 25, 2011

Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.

Borders chain failure is tied partly to how we read and buy books now

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1.gifLook for follow-up news about a liquidation sale, independent bookseller, rescheduled Borders event or jobless former workers.

2.gifFind a news item or ad involving any type of product sold at Borders -- books, videos, newspapers, magazines.

3.gifIs there coverage of another industry also affected by competitive missteps and changes in technology or consumer habits?

"We've helped drive Borders out of business," an investment site blogger says boldly. Therese Poletti, a senior columnist for MarketWatch, last week acknowledged flipping through books at one of the chain's stores, then ordering the items at a discount from Amazon. "Admit it: You've done it," she posted. "The more brazen of us will even order cheaper books while still in the store, via smart phone -- at least those of us who still want actual, physical, page-turning books."

That last point -- the impact of e-books on Borders' shutdown announcement last week because it couldn't find a buyer -- is widely cited as a key reason for the national chain's failure to emerge from bankruptcy reorganization after closing more than 600 stores this year. The remaining 399 now are holding clearance sales of merchandise and fixtures so creditors recover part of what they're owed. The shutdown is "another nail in the coffin of the old-fashioned . . . book business as the world zooms toward an ever-more-digital model," culture writer Rachel Syme commented on NPR.
Borders didn't introduce an e-reader, called Kobo, until 2010 -- three years after the Amazon Kindle came out and a year after Barnes & Noble began selling its Nook. Since this past April, Amazon has sold slightly more e-books than printed versions each month.

Obituary-style coverage cited missteps by managers who didn't position Borders to compete effectively online or as electronic books became nearly as popular as their paper cousins. "The company treated the Internet like a passing trend rather than a transformative phenomenon," says Rick Newman, chief business correspondent for U.S. News magazine. "The company outsourced its web operation to Amazon -- which obviously became a tough competitor -- waiting until 2008 to develop a meaningful web strategy of its own."
For his part, company president Mike Edwards lists three reasons for why the firm died. "The rapidly changing book industry, e-reader revolution and turbulent economy have brought us to where we are now," he says in a statement.

Blogger says: "Imagine a wood-paneled library and warm leather chair, but with its bookshelves bare and only a Kindle to tap. . . . This is a future I don't want to envision." -- Therese Poletti, MarketWatch.com

Consultant says: "Borders forgot how to be a bookstore and wanted to become a cafe experience center, entertainment retailer and -- at the end -- a flea market for over-priced toys and candy. What got lost were the books" -- Ryan Mathews, founder of Black Monk Consulting in Eastpointe, Mich.

Business columnist says: "Borders soon will be another monument to missed business opportunity and to changing times that are making the world safer for an Apple and lot less so for a Borders." -- Daniel Howes, The Detroit News

Front Page Talking Points is written by Felix Grabowski and Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2014
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