Now that Borders is Gone, Which Companies Win?
After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on February 16, Borders Group has failed to find a buyer, and decided Monday to liquidate its 399 remaining stores. The book retailer plans to submit a liquidation plan to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan on Thursday. Liquidation sales at Borders bookstores nationwide could start as soon as Friday. The loss of the 40-year old, Ann Arbor-based business comes as a big blow to Michigan residents in particular, but not everyone will be crying at Borders’ funeral.
With Borders out of the way, Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) will be the only remaining national chain book retailer. With e-readers and sites like Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) offering convenience and lower prices, Barnes & Noble has been feeling the same pressures that ultimately led to Borders’ collapse. But with Borders gone, Barnes & Noble no longer has competition in that particular field, giving it a chance to corner the market.
Many communities have relied on a large Borders store for all of their book buying needs for some time now, especially those who prefer to peruse the shelves than shop online. But now some communities will be left without a large bookstore with the number of different offerings available at Borders. Some may find smaller local bookstores with fewer offerings, but many are likely to go online, order books from Barnes & Noble’s website or on Amazon. Others may find themselves picking up books from the limited selection at stores like Target (NYSE:TGT) and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), which generally carry a few aisles worth of best-sellers.
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While Borders has faced competition from Barnes & Noble and sites like Amazon for some time now, it is the rise of the e-reader that is most to blame for the dying market for actual, physical books. While Borders got in the game by selling digital books to users of the Kobo e-reader, it never gained the market share that B&N’ did with Nook or Amazon did with Kindle, both of which are likely to see more sales as they lose Borders as a competitor but also as they witness more people turning to e-readers as paper books become a thing of the past. Whether Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad will get a boost as well remains to be seen, considering it’s more of a tablet computer than simply an e-reader, and is priced accordingly. Still, as people continue to look for “easier” ways to read, Apple’s iTunes could see an uptick in the number of mp3 audiobooks they sell, and owners of iPad might begin making more iBooks purchases.