NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Borders Group (Stock Quote: BGP), the second largest bookstore in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy Wednesday, ending months of speculation and serving as perhaps the biggest indication yet that the traditional book industry is in trouble. For now, Borders plans to shut down about 30% of its stores in the next few weeks as the company tries to get its finances under control, but more stores could follow suit if it fails to do so.
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Borders was a leading destination for bookworms throughout much of its 40 year history, but in recent years, it’s been hurt by the decline of the publishing industry as a whole and the rise of popular online booksellers like Amazon. Even so, as the chain begins what may be its final chapter, we can’t help but realize there are several features unique to Borders that we’ll miss, should it disappear for good.
Beyond the Books
Borders generally has a fine selection of books, but what really set the chain apart from other brick-and-mortar booksellers was its selection of everything else. Most of its stores have a full entertainment section complete with DVDs and music of every genre that rivaled most music retailers. Its stores also carry games, planners and, at least for a time, special stationery imported from Britain that was hard to find anywhere else. It’s easy to scoff at this now in the age of Amazon when you can find every product under the sun with just a few clicks, but a few years ago, it was a novelty, and even today, it’s just nice to be able to walk into a store and indulge several of your hobbies at the same time.
A Place to Escape in the Mall
Borders has been particularly successful over the years at opening stores in shopping centers, or virtually every mall or strip mall. Clearly, this wasn’t enough to keep the company afloat, but it has provided a nice refuge for any bookworm who has been forced to spend too much time in a mall. Hopefully other small book boutiques will take its place.