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Posted on Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 10:49 a.m.

Ex-Borders CEO: Liquidation announcement 'most humiliating moment of my career'

By Nathan Bomey

When Borders Inc. CEO Mike Edwards had to tell employees that the 40-year-old Ann Arbor-based bookstore chain had decided to liquidate, he couldn't help but get emotional, according to the Detroit News.

"It was the hardest, most humiliating moment of my career," Edwards told the Detroit News in a going-away interview. "I felt sick."


Former Borders CEO Mike Edwards

Melanie Maxwell |

In a wide-ranging discussion, Edwards describes the company's attempts to avoid Chapter 11 bankruptcy as "like the Cuban missile crisis," said the retailer could have been profitable if its stores were smaller and said he's already gotten job offers.

Less than two weeks after Borders announced its liquidation in July, Edwards was "voluntarily terminated" as president of Borders Group Inc. and CEO of its bookselling subsidiary Borders Inc.

He recently declined an interview request sent through social media, saying he was "moving back to the West Coast and getting on with my life." A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge recently approved a $125,000 severance payment to Edwards.

In the interview with the Detroit News, Edwards said it was frustrating to see Borders fall into disrepair.

"It was like finding out your best friend has cancer and there's nothing you can do," said said Edwards, who spent about two years as a Borders executive and about one as CEO of the bookselling unit. "We were in perpetual crisis."

Read the full story in the Detroit News.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 9:59 p.m.

My comment at 12:24 was removed for "violating... conversation guidelines". Since there was nothing offensive in the comment other than that his comparing this to the sensation of learning that a friend had cancer was ludicrous, given the history of poor decisions made by Borders' management leading to all those people losing their jobs, while he took is severance and "got on with his life" I would like an explanation from the censorious editor as to why this comment was deleted.


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 6:02 p.m.

wow - I. me. my. you had stellar people working for you much of it for free. what help did you get for them? outplacement services? nope. severance packages? nope. i know its not all this guy's fault but really? 125K severance package but no outplacement for your employees who worked and accomplished so much?

Mike D.

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 5:48 p.m.

Edwards, like George Jones before him (and others I've forgotten) did his best to right a ship that hit an iceberg in the 1990s when senior management decided the internet was a passing fad and gave the digital business to Amazon on a silver platter. The guys running the company in the past few years did what they could, but Borders was so weakened by then that it was a lost cause. I know there's a lot of anger over the lost jobs, but direct it at the right folks, not these guys brought in at the 11th hour when it was too late. As for the $125k "golden parachute," get real. Execs at this level get payouts a hundred times that amount. Edwards could have done much better elsewhere, but he took on a failing company and tried to fix it. He failed, but chances are, so would any of us. Vilifying him for that is petty.

Tom Joad

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 5:21 p.m.

I don't believe it for a second

Cindy Heflin

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

A comment was removed for name-calling.

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 4:26 p.m.

Take your golden parachute and get lost Mr. Mike Edwards!


Thu, Sep 15, 2011 : 4:20 p.m.

He didn't feel so humiliated and sick that it stopped him from asking for a $125K parting gift for himself though.