Borders files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

(FILE - Feb. 11, 2011 file photo of a Borders bookstore)
February 16, 2011 8:16:06 PM PST
Borders Bookstore is filing for bankruptcy and about a dozen borders locations in the Bay Area getting are ready to shut down. The Borders in Alameda is one of 200 nationwide that will close its doors after the company announced it must restructure its finances.

"It actually makes me very sad. They just recently arrived here in Alameda and I am going to be sad to see them go," Alameda resident Vee Brown said.

"I was disappointed when they came in because they drove out a couple of small bookstores that were in the mall. Since then I've come to shop here and enjoyed the experience," Alameda resident Geoff Hoffman said.

In the greater Bay Area, two are closing in San Francisco, one on the Peninsula, five in the East Bay, three in the South Bay and one in Santa Cruz. The Michigan-based company says the stores that are closing represent about 30 percent of the 642 Borders nationwide and they employ 18,000 people.

UC Berkeley professor Geoff Nunberg says Borders didn't look at other venues when it came to selling books.

"Partly they were late getting into online book sales, very late getting into the e-reader market," he said.

Nunberg says what hurt Borders the most is that it could not keep up with the big-box stores.

"Nobody can compete with the big discount stores like Walmart and Target on margins. They can go razor thin and still make money," he said.

Ironically, Borders is experiencing the same financial woes that independent bookstores face. Some of them have been forced out of business. The independent bookstores still surviving are those like Mo's in Berkeley that sell only used books.

"We tell them what we'll pay for it, $1 if that would be the case and they are free to accept it or not. We may sell the book for $5, so it's a generous profit margin," Ken Eastman from Mo's Bookstore said.

The two Borders closing in San Francisco include the one in Union Square and at the Westfield Mall on Market Street. The Stonestown Borders will stay open.


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