The Death of Borders Books, Just the Tip of the Iceberg…

The Beginning of the End...

This week, Borders Group Inc. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and announced it plans  to close almost one-third of its current 642 bookstores.  As Borders is the second-largest bookstore chain in the country, and rumors of its financial problems have been surfacing for quite some time as its primary brick and mortar rival Barnes and Noble has managed to stay ahead of Borders by introducing the Nook, its e-reader which is set to compete with Amazon’s Kindle.  It’s also worth noting that, both bookstores are no match for the online shopping behemoth Amazon when it comes to selling low priced online reading materials.

Here it starts to become clear as written before in this blog that the printed book is dead and this is the first wave of brick and mortar impacts as the paradigm wave of change builds to its full tipping point force.  As to fuel this pending “wave”, the closure of all of these stores will mean fewer places for consumers to buy printed books, which in turn is expected to speed the pace of  e-book sales.  It is here that the causal loop will now start to build much like a latent shift in tectonic plates which in turn will lead to a tsunami as the movement becomes viral.

In addition this new media attention will also start to get people who don’t know what an ebook is, or haven’t even considered buying a Nook or Kindle, to start to understand that there is an alternative to paper books as well as all the advantages the eReader will bring.  Again in turn this will fuel the viral wave away from the ink on paper printed word to that of electron induced flexibility of an e-Reader which can slip thousands of books into our jacket pocket.

Also if we want to look for the ultimate reduction of our carbon foot print this is it, as from the destruction of tree stocks for pulp, to the chemical waste in processing, and the transportation impact of exhaust release, etc.  With this said, its hard to understand why there hasn’t been a big push already because of this as there are real impacts to be realized by moving away from the “mechanical book” to the “material book”.  However we spend our time pointing out many other things and yet people seem unwilling to point to the venerable book as a source of “global browning” if you will.

The next question is what is next for the retail book market?  As Barnes and Noble pushes its Nook product, it too is taking away the reason to visit a retail store as why venture out into a cold February day when you can sit in front of the fireplace and download the latest Stephan King Novel?  At a given point they too will reach a “tipping point” where the return on investment from retail store sales will no longer justify their cost and they too will slip off into the setting sun as the era of Guttenberg  comes to a close…


About Joseph Campbell

As a strong believer in the fact that "people work for people", it has been a life driver to better to understand the complexities of the various aspects which drive efficiency within this axiom, especially the concepts of leadership. Supporting this, I have been fortunate enough to having experienced this as leader on a global basis over the last decade and half. During this time it has been clear there are three core drivers being Life, Leadership and Economics.
This entry was posted in Economics... and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Death of Borders Books, Just the Tip of the Iceberg…

  1. Patrick Collings says:

    Long Live the Printed Book! or “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” (Samuel Clemens).

    Surely the book shall not leave us, who so depend on the feel of it’s pages as we turn them, who carry it about as a friend? There is a comfort to firmly turning a page, reading a bit then slipping a bookmark into place. Knowing that no power outage or glitch of technical proportions will disturb it brings a deep slumber. And besides, I love to continue my reading as others must shut down their devices prior to takeoff.

    I do admit, that as bathroom reading material, I prefer the printed page (and NO not for those reasons, typically). Will things change? Yes, in fact I read most of my news online, at least the quick quips and puns. My Android companion serves up a constant smorgasbord of written materials. But for in depth reading, or a novel, nothing electronic comes close. At least with my eyes, and my habits.


  2. The Hook says:

    I’m afraid you’re right.

  3. Snezzle says:

    A reall kicker about digital formats is that they cannot be preserved like paper: files will corrupt, get lost, stolen damaged and eventually stop working all together. You COULD NOT archive on a thumb drive… that is REDONKULESS

    Paper, in the right conditions can be archived and managed. It too can be surely get damaged, but lets face it: you don’t need to find a compatible machine, worry about viruses and whatever else. Then there is the issue of finding the correct software and tools to build a compatible machine… Digital form is more fragile than paper.

    Sorry about the shouting,
    Graphic design student.

    • Joseph Campbell says:

      Enjoyed your comments as in my musings I refer to this as the “Alexandrea” principle because as you might recall in the year 48 BC, our friend Julius Caesar while setting fire to his ships burned it [the Library of Alexandrea] to the ground basically destroying the “accumulative” knowledge of man. So your point is valid from the risk stand point however our savor today would hold true for both (paper or electronic) as unlike the time of Caesar, we have the “law of large numbers” in our favor as there are zillions of copies out there. However on the electronic front even if a half a zillion are destroyed for very little investment we can keep perpetually replicating the information forward and while data obsolescence is a consumer issue, it is not a technical issue as I see it on a regular basis as the key is to become “media independent” as electrons are and always will be electrons. The big risk to watch out for is the coming one of “pointers” in cloud based services where media is streamed to you from a “single” source instead of being provided in “whole” bringing us back to the “Alexandra” paradox where the “accumulative” knowledge is again held only by the “few” and not the “many”. Thanks, Joe…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s