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Borders store closings across U.S. show impact of books and music moving from shelves to screens

If Borders is in your area, check last week's papers or the online archive for a look at the local impact.
Can you find a book review, author interview or book ad?
Look for coverage of another business or industry that faces a financial squeeze or is overcoming one.

Shoppers are grabbing bargains as 200 Borders stores in 35 states and Puerto Rico hold sales on books, magazines, music, DVDs, greeting cards and posters before they shut. The chain, struggling to keep more than 400 other sites open, filed for federal bankruptcy court protection last week -- which buys breathing room to repay banks and suppliers part of the millions of dollars they're owed. The company's financial crisis reflects big changes in how we read and buy books -- changes that have killed many independent bookstores and now jeopardize larger ones.

The shifts involve online sales and especially the popularity of digital music and books, which don't bring shoppers into stores. Since last June, (the world's largest book seller) has sold more e-books than hardcover versions. Borders was an e-store latecomer and never introduced its own e-reader such as Amazon's Kindle, Apple's iPad or the Nook from Barnes & Noble, a larger national chain.
As a result of those strategic stumbles and over-expansion by the 40-year-old company, about 6,000 of Borders' 19,500 employees will be jobless and some cities will lose all of the chain's locations -- which is happening in Austin, a state capital with a University of Texas campus and two private universities.

The 200 doomed Borders sites show there's little room for missteps by booksellers. "The book retailing industry is very challenging right now," says Michael Souers, a Wall Street investment analyst. "Bookstores have gradually been losing their prominence, and the U.S. market [has too many] retail stores. So that trend will likely continue as e-books gain more prevalence." That means authors promoting new novels will have to visit libraries, lecture halls and other settings outside a store.
At Borders, meanwhile, the top executive urges buyers to stay loyal and have faith. "Over the next several months, we will build on our core strengths as a great bookseller with the goal of emerging as the destination of choice for the millions of customers who shop our stores each year," CEO and president Mike Edwards says in an e-mail to Borders Rewards program members.

Retail analyst says: "It's 100 percent certain we will see more and more bookstores closing." -- Robert Antall, Consumer Centric Consulting of Shaker Heights, Ohio

Columnist says: "Borders is but the latest example of how new technologies are rapidly upending old business models." -- Tom Walsh, Detroit Free Press busines columnist

Independent bookseller says: "We offer things Amazon cannot. You can meet your friends at our store or get a book signed. People don't come to us necessarily because they need a book, and it's not about being the cheapest place to buy a book." -- Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo, Greenlight Books in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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