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Posted on Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 4:40 p.m.

Borders plans to liquidate, ending 40-year-old bookstore chain

By Nathan Bomey


Borders plans to ask the court to officially approve the chain's liquidation.

(This story has been updated several times.)

(Related: View an extensive timeline documenting Borders' rise and fall.)

Borders Group Inc. plans to liquidate, marking the culmination of a years-long decline for the nation’s second largest bookstore chain, which had fallen into disrepair four decades after it opened its first store in downtown Ann Arbor.

The liquidation, which Borders announced shortly after 4:10 p.m., means that the 10,700 people who still work for Borders — including about 400 at its Ann Arbor headquarters — will lose their jobs.

The Ann Arbor-based chain’s 399 remaining stores will be closed quickly, with liquidation sales starting as soon as Friday — although the company said in a court filing late today that 30 leases could still be sold off.

"It’s not news to me," said Jim McTevia, a turnaround consultant with Bingham Farms-based McTevia & Associates. "The handwriting was on the wall for this company two years ago."

Although Borders is a shadow of its former self — it once employed some 1,800 workers at its corporate headquarters — it’s still a profoundly disheartening development for the local workforce. And it’s the biggest gut punch for the local economy since Pfizer announced its departure from Ann Arbor four years ago.

Borders liquidating

The liquidation will also carve a major hole in downtown Ann Arbor’s retail market. Borders’ flagship store at the corner of Liberty and Maynard streets — steps away from the location of the company’s first store on South State Street — is likely to close quickly. The chain’s superstore at the shopping center on Lohr Road next to Kohl’s is also expected to close.

As recently as earlier today, several reports indicated that Borders was in discussions with Books-A-Million about possibly acquiring fewer than 50 store leases.

Borders said in a filing late today that it had received a bid to acquire leases for 30 stores and that it would "reserve the right ... to seek approval" from the court to sell those leases and the inventory within those stores. It was not clear whether that bid was filed by Books-A-Million or some other entity — and the location of those 30 stores was not known.

“For decades, Borders stores have been destinations within our communities, places where people have sought knowledge, entertainment, and enlightenment and connected with others who share their passion. Everyone at Borders has helped millions of people discover new books, music, and movies, and we all take pride in the role Borders has played in our customers’ lives,” Borders President Mike Edwards said in a statement. "I extend a heartfelt thanks to all of our dedicated employees and our loyal customers.”

Borders declined to make Edwards available for interviews, and store managers for the company's two Washtenaw County locations declined to comment.

Borders’ liquidation comes five months after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with hopes of shedding unprofitable stores, cutting debt and reemerging by September as a viable company.

But the company — which had closed more than 230 stores since its bankruptcy filing — has continued to lose millions every month.


About 400 workers still employed at Borders' headquarters on Phoenix Drive in Ann Arbor will lose their jobs.

Melanie Maxwell |

Borders last week had briefly lined up a prospective buyer: Phoenix-based private equity firm Najafi Companies, which owns Direct Brands, operator of the Book of the Month Club.

But Najafi pulled out of the deal when publishers and landlords objected to the proposed sale, arguing that nothing would prevent Najafi from liquidating Borders on its own, pocketing the cash and keeping valuable intellectual property for itself.

Instead, Borders will be sold to a team of liquidators led by Hilco Merchant Resources LLC and Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC. The liquidators are expected to launch going-out-of-business sales as soon as Friday with the "wind-down" complete by September, a spokeswoman said.

“We are saddened by today’s news announcing the imminent liquidation of Borders, as we had hoped for a different outcome," Najafi said in a statement. "However, last week the debtor selected the liquidators’ bid over our proposed plan to keep Borders operating as a going concern, a decision that is a detriment to Borders’ employees, suppliers and customers.”

A New York bankruptcy judge will be asked to officially approve the liquidation at a hearing on Thursday.

DJM Realty, a consultancy for Borders, said 13 leases in Michigan would be up for sale.

"It’s very disappointing that Borders couldn’t come back from a series of bad decisions and bad luck and harsh business environment," said Michael Norris, a publishing industry analyst with Simba Information, "because I’ve always enjoyed shopping at Borders and so have a lots of other people. It’s going to have a pretty bad effect on the industry."

The bankruptcy is also a major blow to landlords throughout the country. Borders, which leases all of its stores, has an average of about 25,000 square feet per superstore. The chain has about 270 superstores and 130 small-format locations.

In Ann Arbor, Tom Crawford, the city's chief financial officer and interim city administrator, said it was difficult to immediately assess any potential loss of property taxes in connection with Borders' liquidation.

"So we'll have to see what the ultimate impact of that is," he said. "We wouldn't expect the taxes to disappear necessarily, because if someone else is leasing, they're ensuring the taxes are paid. I think the big impact is the jobs and that's a disappointing situation."

Edwards said in a letter to employees that they can expect information later this week "regarding separation information, severance, benefits, and other resources for employees."

"You have my assurance that we will do whatever we can to help our employees through this transition," he wrote.

At its headquarters on Phoenix Drive on Ann Arbor's south side, Borders leases space in a 460,000-square-foot facility owned by Agree Realty, which has been trying to sell the building. But Borders only occupied about 25 percent of the building as of a few months ago and was seeking a new headquarters.

At 6 p.m. today, no employees could be found at the headquarters building.

During the bankruptcy process, major publishers turned into an obstacle to Borders’ reorganization. They filed several objections to Borders’ bankruptcy plans and, on Wednesday, objected to Borders’ plan to allow Najafi to be the leading bidder for the company’s assets.

Borders' top seven unsecured creditors, including publishers such as Simon & Schuster and Random House, were owed more than $193 million, according to bankruptcy documents filed in February.

Borders’ liquidation is a concrete sign of the rapidly shifting market for book sales. Borders was a victim of industry dynamics, exacerbated by a number of strategic errors, an insatiable desire to expand and rapid executive turnover.

Executives failed to capitalize on the sales opportunity created by the emergence of the Internet, built a network of superstores that turned out to be far too large and didn’t develop an electronic books strategy.

In a rare interview in May, Edwards, who joined the company about two years ago, said Borders erred by “not investing in the online experience,” buying back shares of its own stock and investing in foreign stores.

Borders losses and profits

  • 2010 (first 11 months): $168.2 million loss
  • 2009: $109.4 million loss
  • 2008: $186.7 million loss
  • 2007: $157.4 million loss
  • 2006: $151.3 million loss
  • 2005: $101.0 million profit
  • 2004: $131.9 million profit
  • 2003: $115.2 million profit
  • 2002: $107.6 million profit

“Amazon has been investing in technology, creating a great online book experience for years and they haven’t really changed their strategy. They continue to invest aggressively in it,” Edwards said. Barnes & Noble “never looked at international, they never took on more than they could, they kept their balance sheet healthy and they ultimately resonated with the core reader customer.”

Before e-books, the Internet undercut Borders’ traditional business model — and Borders failed to capitalize on the opportunity it presented.

In 2001, Borders signed a contract to allow to handle its online book sales — which was later considered to be the moment when Borders lost control of its online destiny.

In 2008, Borders ended that relationship, deciding to launch its own website — but, by that time, Amazon already had a stronghold in the online book sales marketplace. At the time of its bankruptcy, online sales made up only about 3 percent of Borders’ total revenue.

Borders superstores

This table shows the rise in the number of Borders superstores at the end of each fiscal year and corresponding fall in the average sales per square foot of those stores in the years since the company's 1995 initial public offering, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission records.

  • 1996: 158 superstores ($259 average sales per square foot)
  • 1997: 204 ($261)
  • 1998: 256 ($256)
  • 1999: 300 ($255)
  • 2000: 349 ($255)
  • 2001: 385 ($245)
  • 2002: 434 ($237)
  • 2003: 482 ($223)
  • 2004: 504 ($227)
  • 2005: 528 ($232)
  • 2006: 567 ($236)
  • 2007: 541 ($228)
  • 2008: 518 ($203)
  • 2009: 511 ($173)

“They never really harnessed the power of the Internet,” said David Dykhouse, a manager of Borders’ Arborland store from 2002 to 2007, in February. “As someone once said, the Internet is the comet that killed the dinosaur. I’m afraid Borders is one of those dinosaurs.”

Norris argued that Borders' decision to outsource its online sales to Amazon was a crucial error.

He said the company's liquidation was a blow to publishers and to the cultural status of book reading.

"Fewer people will buy books," he said.

The recent emergence of e-book sales — which surged in 2010, powered by Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iPad and Barnes & Noble’s Nook — added another layer to Borders’ digital troubles.

“Following the best efforts of all parties, we are saddened by this development,” Edwards said in a statement today. “We were all working hard towards a different outcome, but the headwinds we have been facing for quite some time, including the rapidly changing book industry, eReader revolution, and turbulent economy, have brought us to where we are now."

Borders didn’t have enough cash to develop its own e-reader, so it invested in Toronto-based Kobo Inc., which developed an e-book store for Borders and offered its e-reader for sale in Borders superstores.

But the progression of book sales from print to digital gave readers another reason to visit Borders stores but walk out without making a purchase, analysts said.

“That profound impact on the retail traffic puts a lot of pressure on not just our bookstore, but all bookstores,” Edwards said in May, acknowledging that he was “surprised” at the pace of the transition to e-books but didn’t “anticipate it slowing down any time soon.”

Borders’ liquidation is a major development for the book industry. The company still had 10.7 percent market share in the book store industry, according to a report by research firm IBISWorld. The company’s chief bricks-and-mortar competitor, Barnes & Noble, had 36 percent market share.

By all accounts, Borders made a number of strategic errors over the last two decades.

It was a stunning reversal for a company once known for innovation. Borders, in fact, is generally credited with inventing the superstore format for book sales.

"Anybody who bought the company would have had a very, very formidable competition in Barnes & Noble and Amazon," McTevia said. "The company and the technology and the industry is all in transition. And they’re just completely out of money, unable to afford to innovate."

Founded in 1971 by brothers Tom and Louis Borders as an 800-square-foot shop on South State Street in the shadow of the University of Michigan, Borders quickly appealed to a college town filled with voracious readers.

"I'm sorry to see them go," said John Hieftje, mayor of the city of Ann Arbor. "The downtown store has really been a great place. A lot of us in Ann Arbor have an emotional attachment to Borders … and you certainly feel for the people who work for Borders and are going to lose their jobs."

Soon after Borders was founded, Louis Borders developed an innovative inventory tracking system that improved the company’s product management and sales projections. It was that system that allowed the company to surge, according to research by Daniel Raff, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. “They were typically 2-3 years ahead of their competitors,” Raff wrote in his research paper about the history of book superstores in the U.S.

Still, the stores operated by the Borders brothers look and feel a lot different than the stores Borders operates today.

The brothers, in fact, sold Borders to retailer Kmart Corp. in 1992, when Borders had only about 21 stores. Kmart, which had acquired small-format bookstore chain Waldenbooks in 1984, merged the two companies and spun them off into a separate, public corporation in 1995 under CEO Robert DiRomualdo.

Borders expanded without abandon from 1992 to 2006, even though its sales-per-square-foot peaked at $261 in 1997, when the company had 204 superstores, according to Securities and Exchange Commission records reviewed by

Average sales per square foot at Borders superstores fell 33.7 percent from a peak of $261 in the 1998 fiscal year to $173 in 2009, but the number of large-format Borders stores doubled, rising from 256 to 511.

When Borders filed for bankruptcy, the company said it was losing about $2 million per week at its unprofitable stores, which average about 24,700 square feet.

In recent years, Borders cycled through executives at an unsettling pace. The company has had five CEOs in five years.

Many other executives have come and gone — and the company lost several in the months since its bankruptcy filing. The turnover contributed to an inconsistent corporate strategy as the company tried a number of products, store formats and promotions to boost revenue.

Within the last two years, the company decided to cut its commitment to movies and music, choosing instead to focus on “non-book products” such as children’s toys and games.

But nothing could stop a sales slide that started five years ago. The company posted losses of more than $770 million from 2006 to 2010.

The loss of Borders may be good news for competitor Barnes & Noble — at least in the short term, while book shoppers look for alternative options.

But Borders’ liquidation raises serious questions about the long-term future of physical book stores as Amazon dominates online sales, e-books surge and big-box stores undercut independent stores on price.

“I, for one, feel that bookstores will never go away,” Edwards said in May. “They’re too important to the American culture and our communities. It’s like the last safe social escape for retail. I don’t think people want to hang out or relax in a Target.”

He added: “People are really focused on Borders right now, but I think we should be expanding our view in terms of what’s happening in the book industry. The real story is all these amazing writers out there — where are they really going to be able to show their books in a way that continues to inspire society?

"That’s what the bookstore is about.” reporters Lizzy Alfs and Ryan Stanton contributed to this report.

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


Moises Trego

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 6:30 a.m.

I must say i liked how you have developed your website, its simple, neat, easy to get around and incredibly easy on the eyes. Would you tell me which theme or designer did you use...isocort


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 4:06 p.m.

Hmmm.... Does this illustrate the point that to employ workers in jobs, a business must have sales? And, that tax breaks do not create those sales? Nor, do they assure the kind of management needed to effectively find and pursue those sales? Just a thought and certainly not a popular one. But, I liked Borders and am sorry to see it go as I am about many businesses in the State of Michigan go who are struggling because demand is down. I like businesses that exist to serve the middle class. I don't want to drive down streets in a town that goes from homes that are more like palaces to blight. I like having a lot of that clean, wholesome, middle class neighborhoods And, that takes good wages at jobs for the middle-class. It's a personal preference....I accept that.

Dave Bass

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

Sad day for Borders. My heart goes out to the many employees. I'm as much to blame as anyone. I was given a Kobo E-Reader for my birthday a year ago. It was convenient and easy to scroll through my book choices before purchase. I visited the local Brighton store less frequently but still purchased there when the feeling came over me that I needed to hold an actual book in my hand while reading.. It is a great store to browse and relax in the coffee shop. My wife and I will miss it.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 2:17 p.m.

I will miss what Borders used to be many, many years ago. Haven't bothered with it in its current incarnation. Tragic that the employees will suffer for such awful management. But then, that's always the way, isn't it? Management took care of themselves well before this. Terrible. I also would love to see a grocery store or market set up there...something LOCAL and something that benefits the community. But, Ann Arbor sold its soul to Texas and other outside corporate interests. I await the cookie-cutter national chain monstrosity that will reside there one day where Ann Arbor innovation once stood. My sincere best wishes to the hard-working laid off employees of Borders books. You deserve better. RIP Borders

Mark Copeland

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 5:03 a.m.

More than anything it was Amazon coming along and Borders waiting and waiting and waiting to invest in an internet model. Amazon only needs more warehouse space - could be in the middle of nowhere where land is really cheap. Borders stuck with the brick and mortar model and even amped up that model at a time when the rest of the industry was going in the opposite direction. While Borders was opening more and more stores at an incredible rate, they were also spending money on the aesthetic of needing to draw customers into that physical location. You can blame e-readers if you want, but this whole things started a long time ago when Borders resisted the internet boom. This lack of vision caused this to happen. It seems Barnes & Noble has found a better balance between the web presence of Amazon and the physical brick and mortar model, but I don't care about Barnes & Noble, they aren't in Ann Arbor. Not looking forward to a big empty building in the middle of downtown. Sad day, indeed.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 3:48 a.m.

The end has finally come,MERCIFULLY. This is a great lesson on how not to do a lot of things. The will come up tomorrow and we will move on. That's the way it is July 18,2011.

Somewhat Concerned

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 2:52 a.m.

You have to feel badly for many of the employees, especially in Ann Arbor, where most of them cared. In other locations, Borders had some of the worst bookstore employees, and that didn't help the cause. Its top management team changed from one set of bunglers to another set of bigger bunglers. They didn't understand bookselling; they didn't even understand basic retailing. Stores were dirty, crazy music picked by the weirdest employee on the shift drove people out of the stores, the web site came late and was lousy, and the attempt to turn stores into electronic centers burned scarce capital. Then management pulled a couple of fast ones on the publishers and book distributors who provide the inventory Borders needed. It's been years since Borders as a whole was even a decent company, much less one capable of surviving in changing, difficult times. The store-level employees in Ann Arbor deserved better. The big shots in Ann Arbor and the store employees in many other places got better than they deserved. The way things are going in Ann Arbor, the Liberty Street store will become another national chain, like the new 7-11 or Five Guys. Maybe a nice Wal Mart. Whatever puts the most cash in the landlord's very big pockets.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 2:18 a.m.

So we lose Borders AND Riders, but we receive Bongs and Thongs in return. So scary and sad that our kids will have those shops for memories instead of the memories that many of us share of the former stores.

Cathy Knox

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 1:43 a.m.

Yep, online shopping takes it's toll on yet another business. People should stop and think about this before they buy online again.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 12:44 p.m.

Cathy, please explain to me why I should spend significantly more for something I can get online? Please, let me spend more time of my day to go out of my way to pickup a book when I can get it delivered to my door for a lot less.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 11:48 a.m.

&quot;It irks me to see upper middle class people lecture people of a lower economic bracket on where they should or shouldn't buy items. Such arrogance!&quot; Yet another strawman by eagle. Can you point out exactly where Cathy tells the lower class where they must buy their books? And, BTW: study after study suggests that the poor are less likely to have at-home access to the internet than are the middle class. So, if anything, she is telling the UPPER class where to buy their books. Source: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Good Night and Good Luck


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 11:07 a.m.

Bad mgmt, over-expansion, stock buybacks, outsourcing online to Amazon then spending too much and too long to take it back, and finally charging higher prices on most books than online AND retail competitors....


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 4:17 a.m.

Cathy, I love books. Because of their prices Amazon gives me the opportunity to buy many more books than a Borders or Barnes and Noble do. The difference in price is significant. It irks me to see upper middle class people lecture people of a lower economic bracket on where they should or shouldn't buy items. Such arrogance!


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 2:29 a.m.

Borders did not adjust to a changing market. Heck, they let one of their major competitors (Amazon) handle the outsourcing of their website. How short sighted is that?


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 12:54 a.m.

Looks like I'll be going downtown during Art Fair after all—to go to the liquidation sale on Friday!


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 12:10 a.m.

So Build-a-Bear didn't save the company?


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 11:51 p.m.

I was in Borders last week, and shame on them for still trying to sign people up for the pay-for-a-discount club they tried foisting on people.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 11:33 p.m.

It's a sad day, but sadder still was watching that ghost of a store on Liberty empty and turn into a ghosttown with poorly maintained facillities and a crappy selection.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 11:29 p.m.

When private business's cannot compete and make it in the marketplace they liquidate and go out of business. When public schools cannot compete and deliver a successful product and when they cannot control their costs they demand that taxpayers drop their wallets and feed the beast ! Good Day

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 11:44 a.m.

Snoop's just a one-trick pony. Good Night and Good Luck


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 2:47 a.m.

Vintage snoopdog!


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 2:30 a.m.

Unreal. A story about a book store and you bring up how horrific public education is. Not only are you wrong - and living in a city with fantastic public schools - but so inappropriate.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 2:29 a.m.

Yeah, good idea, heretic! And kids can't unionize so that will keep costs down for our &quot;job-creating businesses.&quot;


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 2:22 a.m.

Yes! Let's liquidate the public school systems and send kids to work in canneries! THAT will fix the economy!


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 11:25 p.m.

My heart goes out to all the employees... Interesting...the previous business at this location was Jacobsons....Another established company that went BK


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 11:24 p.m.

They should have always listened to the Borders veteran, Joe Gable, but went downhill long before they let him go. I'm sorry for all the people who are loosing their jobs.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 10:34 p.m.

I remember applying for a job at the original store--the application quizzed me on knowledge of NYT best-sellers, but also on names of leading writers in various fields (Claude Levi-Strauss, for Anthropology, for instance). [I don't think I made the cut--kind of got a 'we'll call you if we need you' response when I turned in my app.] I came away with a heightened respect for the staff of that original store. But by the time the Liberty store opened, there was a shift away from having knowledgeable sales staff. That should be part of the explanation of Border's decline. There are probably good economic reasons for the low-pay, less skilled staffing of the large stores, but at that point Border's became the big corporate entity that threatened the underdog, local stores whose staff people were more likely to know their section of a store. I'm sad to see the current staff left in the lurch and perhaps they, too, have a high level of skill, but the story of Border's decline needs a chapter on labor relations decisions, too.

Ron Granger

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 1:28 p.m.

Not because of ebooks. Borders failed years ago - before ebooks were significant. It's just taken this long for the corpse to realize it was doomed.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 4:13 a.m.

I don't think your point is really relevant here., Borders failed because of ebooks, not because of a lack of knowledge among its employees.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

1) All of those self-help books to run a better business did not help? 2) All future executive pay and bonuses will be in the form of Borders Gift Cards.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 11:42 a.m.

Nice strawman, eagle No one said it was easy. But these people were very well compensated precisely because they allegedly had skills and knowledge we mere mortals don't. And so RTFM's point remains: these clowns walked away having earned more money in a year than many Borders employees will earn in a lifetime, while the employees lost their jobs. Good Night and Good Luck


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 4:11 a.m.

It's easy to criticize a CEO when you have never done it yourself. Try running a company and then you can talk.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 10:14 p.m.

List of potential tenants for the downtown location: 1.) Barracuda Networks - this was the &quot;only&quot; building large enough to accomodate their growth plans. Not sure about the zoning though. 2.) Dave &amp; Busters - when is the west side going to get one? 3.) A funky, boutique hotel with a cool bar/lounge. 4.) Nordstroms - sorry it's not Jacobsons, but the concept worked here before. 5.) Last but not least, divide into multiple, smaller retail on first floor and office space on second floor. I would be very surprised if this location remained empty for more than 12 months.

Ron Granger

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

Thongs and bongs.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 12:39 p.m.

6.) Hooters.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 10:59 a.m.

1) Great idea! 2) I've never seen what people see in D&amp;B. Blah food, very noisy, and spending $20 or more on video games? No Thx. 3) A boutique hotel would never work in A2, but that location is nowhere near big enoughfor any hotel. 4) Nordstom's is a great idea. 5) last thing we need are more small, poorly planned retail stores that go out of business in a year or less.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 11:34 p.m.

I like the Dave and Busters idea, actually.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 10:50 p.m.

... Or they could just tear it down and build another high rise for rich kids going to UM. Talk about &quot;stumbling distance from the bar&quot;! Skeeps is just across the street!

Ron Granger

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:59 p.m.

Another fine business run into the ground by a sucession of CEOs, and board members, who took their golden parachutes and moved on. As long as they were making the bucks, they were fine with playing the game, and enriching themselves and their friends. As long as they were making the bucks, they paid lip service to being able to compete with Amazon. I feel sorry for the workers caught up in it.

Ron Granger

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

ferdcom, that is no excuse. Businesses must change with the times. Borders was too slow, and too resistant to change. It was a &quot;good ole boys&quot; club at the top. Lots of $200+/hour consultants raking it in. Management could not keep key titles on store shelves - even in their flagship A2 store. Additionally, their book locator kiosks couldn't even confirm whether a title was in stock, or where it was located on the shelf. Pathetic. Borders paid amazon to run their website. Again and again, they tried to bring the website in-house. It was a disaster and they spent a great deal of money on vendors who could not execute. The inability to execute a timely web strategy, like so much else, was a failure of executive management. Management failed to hire industry experts. When Amazon built their distribution infrastructure, they hired experts from Walmart. The borders ship has been sinking for years. What expert would work there? How could they possibly attract key talent? Blame the board and the executives. Also, this is why you don't stick around on a sinking ship.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 4:09 a.m.

That's true for business or government, Ron. Borders is an excellent example of why CEO's make the moneyu that they do. Their decisions impact everyone at the company. Sadly, Borders CEOs' routinely made the wrong choice,


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 12:10 a.m.

It was &quot;run into the ground&quot; by a change in the market. Online shopping -don't leave home, lower prices, no sales tax. Times change, businesses die.

Mr. Ed

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:50 p.m.

In deed a sad day for the folks who lost a job. I hope all the greedy board folks who got the big bonus are happy.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:47 p.m.

I am sad to see it go but the truth is that the Borders has not been a good book store for quite some time. I've been shopping at Nicola's more recently although not too often because it is far away from me. Maybe this will mean a nice independent store will open on the east side of town (hope hope)

Somewhat Concerned

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 3:33 a.m.

Nicola's? I live near it and find their selection to be a subset of the pop books you could get at Borders and can get at Barnes &amp; Noble. The atmosphere is oppressive: signs asking you to not look at magazines unless you buy them and store clerks behind the counter who are unfriendly and seem unconcerned with customers - or at least less concerned with customers than with carrying on their own conversations that you hate to interrupt by purchasing a book. And a little while back when there were stories about Border's problems, Nicola's ran a snide ad taking advantage of it. Not a book lovers kind of store.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 11:49 p.m.

I concur. I find Nicolas to have an odd, uncomfortable vibe, and have never really cottoned to shopping there much.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 10:16 p.m.

Nicola's has a nice selection of magazines but they will not allow you to leisurely look at them....rather unpleasant signs are posted to warn you. I will miss Borders where you can have a coffee and peruse books and magazines.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:42 p.m.

I just wish I had a place to get my international magazines now, I just buy various ones at times so a subscription wouldn't work. I wish there was an online store for that

paul wiener

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:39 p.m.

As someone moving back to A2 after 32 years away, I'm extremely upset. I was there at the beginning and see very clearly how potentially devastating this will be for downtown and for the general reputation of this once &quot;most bookish town in America.&quot; God forbid something awful doesn't replace it.

Somewhat Concerned

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 3:43 a.m.

The &quot;most bookish town in America?&quot; That must have been a long time ago or another of A2's legend in our own minds delusions. We had one bookstore that got caught buying books homeless people stole from students. We had Shaman Drum, a small store with a more interesting, eccentric selection than a mall-based chain store, but not a great bookstore by any stretch of the imagination, and Border's - once a good chain but one that quickly became nothing special, with hundreds of stores. Other than in our aspired-to self-image, what made Ann Arbor a bookish town? A music town? Yes. A high school sports town? Yes. A book town? Only if one has lived in but a few places.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:32 p.m.

So, any guesses on what replaces the downtown location? Is it going to be a new chain drug store or a new chain restaurant? I can't wait to find out.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 1:59 a.m.

Don't count on a grocery store. Michigan Book and Supply used to be a Kroger, but it's been a long time since a grocer could afford the rents around there. I'm thinking it will be vacant until they subdivide it, probably into upstairs office space, and four or so storefronts downstairs. I'd bet on a chain restaurant, a local restaurant, a chain apparel retailer, and something like a nail salon. But it's probably going to be a few years before the ground floor space is filled.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 11:13 p.m.

I'd like a wide variety grocery store. That's what the college kids and the people who live downtown need. It would be nice to have a drug store that is easily accessible. Is there still a drug store down on S.State?


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:28 p.m.

I loved the original store on State and spent many a Saturday morning browsing it's shelves. But when the bloat started, and the corporate mentality took over, and they started putting many little independent bookstores out of business, I stopped shopping there. I used to buy books, now I go to the library. Let's keep our libraries busy. Maybe someone can start a local newspaper in the flagship location.

Nick Pirce

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:22 p.m.

At Borders with the family and realizing that this whole place means nothing to me anymore: I have an iPad


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 12:58 p.m.

It is sad that those employees have lost their jobs, but times have changed. Borders didn't keep up with those changes.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 11:35 a.m.

How sad

Fred Smyth

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:22 p.m.

There are websites that pay cash for gift cards. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

free form

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:18 p.m.

I knew it was coming, but it still sucks. What a sad day for all the employees. My heart goes out to them.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:05 p.m.

what a sad day. I loved that original borders store on State Street (where M Den is now). Had such a great depth of selection. Barnes and Noble has improved through the years, but I always felt Borders was the place where serious people who wanted books could go, whereas BN had the &quot;pop culture&quot; thing going. i.e. thousands of the best sellers, but no depth of its history books, etc. Unfortunately, Borders was not managed correctly and here we are. Sad.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:02 p.m.

I've really enjoyed Borders over the years, especially when it was in the old store on State Street. My wife and I decided to go down to the store on Liberty last night for one of our last visits. You could tell there was a pall hanging over the place.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:01 p.m.

Sad day in Ann Arbor. Instead of focusing on the Liberty location, I'd like to focus on the people who just lost their jobs. Most of us lost a bookstore. They just lost their livelihoods.

Jeff Gaynor

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:01 p.m.

Any advice for people like me who haven't used a dozen Borders gift cards?


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 10:57 p.m.

I'd advise against using it online. If your purchase isn't in the mail by the time the liquidators &quot;buy&quot; the assets of Borders, you'll just be another unsecured creditor. After the liquidation of Borders' assets, you and the rest of the unsecured creditors would get part of what's left over.

Jeff Gaynor

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 3:11 a.m.

I stopped by the store. I was told they'll accept the gift cards at least through Wed. - and staff told 2 others, through Thursday. I hadn't known they were good on-line; thanks for the tip.

Hot Sam

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 1:17 a.m.

It's one thing if you have them today, and another if you still have them at he end of the day tomorrow...


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 11:03 p.m.

Use them ASAP - Online or at a store.

Janice Savelle

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 10:02 p.m.

What were you waiting for? The portents couldn't have been more ominous, and this has dragged on for a long time.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:33 p.m.

They probably will be worthless once the liquidation is approved, so use them TODAY!

Jeff Frank

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:27 p.m.

Yeah... go online and use them... NOW. Do not wait a moment or they will be worthless, like the Blockbuster gift card my daughter received for her birthday.

Stephanie Oakes

Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:17 p.m.

They're not useless yet. Borders is liquidating, which means they're selling all their stock--that means big sales in store, and probably online too. If you don't have a Borders near you, spend your gift cards online. But do it quick!


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

You can put them on a clothespin and mount them on your bike and they make a great noise!


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:05 p.m.

They are worthless now. You should have seen the writing on the wall and used them. I used up my gift cards months ago.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 9:02 p.m.

They make terrific coasters. Get over it.


Mon, Jul 18, 2011 : 8:55 p.m.

I remember the old store on State. Seeing that big empty building will be kind of weird. Whether or not you like chain bookstores, that flagship location brought lots of people downtown. I shudder to think what will take its place. The downtown area has been flooded with non-local business, and we have already lost so much local character down there.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 12:57 p.m.

Border's hasn't really been a &quot;local&quot; business for quite some time.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 1:49 a.m.

Heck, I still have a t-shirt from the old store on State. Pfizer hurt the city more overall, but this feels more painful. Any chance we can resurrect Shaman Drum now?