News

Borders files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Palo Alto store to remain open; 200 stores to close nationwide

Borders Group, Inc. filed for bankruptcy Wednesday (Feb. 16), the company announced in a press release.

Borders is the nation's second largest bookstore chain with approximately 19,500 employees throughout the United States, according to the company.

Executives said they plan to close 200 stores, with an option to close up to 75 more. Several Bay Area stores are on the list, according to court documents, including two in San Francisco, two in San Jose (including the Santana Row store) and stores in Pleasanton, San Mateo, Los Gatos, Santa Cruz and Fremont. Borders has 650 stores throughout the U.S. The store closures will take place in the next few weeks, according to the statement.

"It has become increasingly clear that in light of the environment of curtailed customer spending, our ongoing discussions with publishers and other vendor related parties, and the company's lack of liquidity, Borders Group does not have the capital resources it needs to be a viable competitor and which are essential for it to move forward with its business strategy to reposition itself successfully for the long term," Mike Edwards, Borders Group president, stated in the release.

The Chapter 11 filing will not interrupt sales, author readings and signings at open stores. Online order fulfillment at Borders.com and the Borders Rewards programs and gift cards are still valid, the company said.

"We are confident that, with the protection afforded under Chapter 11 and with the support of employees, publishers, suppliers and creditors, and the reading public, a successful reorganization can be achieved enabling Borders to emerge from the process as a stronger and more vibrant book seller," Edwards said.

Borders has operated a bookstore in downtown Palo Alto at the historic Varsity Theater building at 456 University Ave. since 1996. Landlord Charles "Chop" Keenan said Borders is current on its rent. The Palo Alto store does good business, he said.

Borders has received commitments for $505 million in Debtor-in-Possession financing, led by GE Capital Restructuring Finance. The financing will give Borders the ability to change its business strategy, Edwards said.

"This decisive action will give Borders the opportunity to achieve a proper infusion of capital in order to have the opportunity to have the time to reorganize in order to reposition itself to be a successful business for the long term," he said.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by The-Future-Is-Digital
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2011 at 10:30 am

The Chapter 11 filing lists the stores/locations to be closed by Borders, during its reorganization:

Web Link

With Google, Apple, and Amazon all ramping up for a full court press in the digital world, traditional media outlets like Borders are going to have to pay catch-up ball, or there will be more of their stores closed in the future.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by reader
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 16, 2011 at 11:34 am

Barnes & Nobles is doing fine. Don't blame the tech companies for Borders' problems.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bambi
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 16, 2011 at 12:06 pm

They need to clean this store up and get the street people out. I was there last week and 2 were fighting upstairs and no one does anything about it. It seems unsafe and not at all a place I want to shop and feel comfortable doing so. They need to pay attention to what is happening inside this store if they want more business.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Palo Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 16, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Now I know that the bathroom situation isn't going to get better anytime soon: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Feb 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm

At least 13 stores in Northern California are closing, including 2 in SF (plus the one by AtT&T Park that already closed), San Mateo, and Los Gatos.

How many are left in the Bay Area besides Palo Alto?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Books-R-Us
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Feb 16, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Too funny! Borders-what goes around comes around. "Barnes and Nobles is doing fine" Guess we'll see. Intentionally putting private stores out of business just because you can and to make a bigger profit was pure greed and a heck of a way to run a business. It was never about the books, it was just about business.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lost_Customer
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 16, 2011 at 8:25 pm

No surprise. I tried to do some Christmas shopping at their Sunnyvale store but the place was a mess. I could not reach the shelves because there were boxes, tumbling piles of books, and freeloaders lounging around in front of the shelves, reading books like they were in their own living rooms. There were also a lot of creepy looking men sitting in the chairs and watching me shop. I agree with Bambi (poster above). I did not feel safe. When I finally found a book to buy, it was full price but too dog-eared to present as a gift. I walked out, went home, and shopped on Amazon.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 17, 2011 at 2:21 am

bru is a registered user.

BRING BACK THE VARSITY THEATER !

I have so many good memories of that place. I guess it might compete with the Stanford, and the cost or rent would be too high, but that was such a great place. Stanford could play the really old movies, and the Varsity could play the new old movies! ;-)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 17, 2011 at 2:26 am

bru is a registered user.

Funny but I have been in the Union City Borders and it is almost exactly like the Palo Alto one ... dirty restrooms, graffiti, but it does have a nicer snack bar and it is near more other retail shopping. Not a really good selection of books.

I think the best selection is the Barnes & Nobles in Santa Clara on ??? Homestead is it and Lawrence ??? I always forget ... it's big and fairly nice. It's hard for street people to be there because it is not near any street people place, like downtown.

Of course, Keplers is the best place to support because they have the great author lecture events!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Varsity Theatre and LIVE MUSIC AGAIN
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2011 at 10:41 am

Their employees aren't the most courteous or helpful either. I sure hope they turn it back into a live music venue and bring some trad and world music back again. I really miss that. I also miss it as a movie theatre.

Wouldn't it be great if Keplers were on University Avenue! I don't visit Keplers often, even though it is down the road from me. It just doesn't have the vibe I'm looking for and I hate the parking.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by better than a library
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 17, 2011 at 10:58 am

I have great memories of Borders. It's been there for years and has served the city well.
Amazing how if it was named "Keplers" everyone would be up in arms about the possibility of it closing!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by The-Future-Is-Digital
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2011 at 11:11 am

CBS (on-line) has an interesting 2-min review of the impact of e-books on the publishing (paper) industry--

Digital Books Pushing Print to the Grave:
Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by local gurl
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 17, 2011 at 11:23 am

You know a bookstore is doomed when you ask an employee whether the National Book Awards have come out yet and he or she looks at you as if you are an alien. Bye bye Borders!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm

I would also love to see the Varsity come back with "new old" movies, live music, great coffee bar. And, while we're dreaming, let's bring back Caffe Verona!

I went into Borders once, and that was more than enough for all the reasons already mentioned.

Don't worry about print books. They'll always be available at the 5 Palo Alto 20th century libraries.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joann
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 17, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Don't sneer at books printed on paper. There's nothing like a good used book for a great bargain. E-books are already more expensive than a clean used or sale book, and there's no way to buy a used E-book.

Besides, the internet as we know it is going to disappear behind a curtain of fees and tiers of service. Downloading all the data you want as fast as you want is going away. But hopefully the library will still be there, and so will the used book stores.

Of which Powell's in Portland, Oregon is a great one (powells.com), for new and used (and e-books if you must).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joanne
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 17, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Oh, and the earth is flat!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 18, 2011 at 4:44 am

If there were only eBooks would it be possible at all to buy a new book or periodical without using plastic and without being identified and stored somewhere for your life? I buy books with plastic all the time and think nothing of it but it's still chilling in principle especially for periodicals. Of course, I know privacy really is dead.

Fortunately in Palo Alto and Mountain View we still have Books Inc, a local area chain. Bell's on Emerson in PA is a treasure. But quite a few bookstores disappeared from University Avenue over time. There's also a good sized used book store on Castro in Mountain View, I don't know about Palo Alto. Mountain View also has East West Bookstore for those into higher consciousness but I think you're out of luck if you are into lower consciousness in Mountain View or Palo Alto. Of course, Keplers comes up on PA bookstore searches. But stores long gone do too.

Perhaps the local papers can do a discovering another bookstore feature once a week and go through them?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by The-Future-Is-Digital
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2011 at 10:52 am

> There's nothing like a good used book for a great bargain.

Well .. Borders is having a fire sale, starting today, at all of the stores they are closing. Seems like a new book at fire sale prices is better than a used book that has been "who knows where", and probably has not been disinfected before it was put on the shelf for sale.

> E-books are already more expensive than a clean used or sale book,

Not true. The price of e-books ranges for $0.00 to $?.??.

BTW, what is the highest price allowed by law for a used paper book?

> there's no way to buy a used E-book.

This is a fluid situation. For instance, Google Books, the Internet Archive and dozens of other book archives, makes available at least 3M out-of-copyright books. Once downloaded, you can give away these books to anyone you want--as long as you don't removed any of the Google inserted information.

As to in-copy-right books, resale is a "right"/"permission" granted by each publisher. Amazon/Kindle currently does not support resale. But at some point, as Kindles are upgraded, the V.1/V.2 devices will be resold, and the contents will go with the device.

At some point in time, there will be so many ebooks in the world, that any attempt on the part of the publishers to try to control the redistribution of the books will be beyond any organization's ability to manage, and they will allow resale--just as with paper books.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 18, 2011 at 11:28 am

> At some point in time, there will be so many ebooks in the world, that
> any attempt on the part of the publishers to try to control the redistribution
> of the books will be beyond any organization's ability to manage, and they
> will allow resale--just as with paper books.

Don't bet on it TFID, in fact I'll bet it is more likely that with computing and networking power they will be more likely to track your progress through a book and when you get to the end if you want to re-read it, they will charge you again.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by The-Future-Is-Digital
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm

> get to the end if you want to re-read it,
> they will charge you again

Very doubtful. Even if Amazon (or some similar large publishing/e-tailing house) were try a stunt like that, it wouldn't take long before smaller publishing houses would step up and offer purchase-to-own e-books to offset Amazon's size.

If this were a possibility, then paper books would be printed with "disappearing" ink that would oxidize in say, 1-2 years, rendering paper books as useless too. There's no evidence of that's ever happinging.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by robit noops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 21, 2011 at 4:21 pm

I hope Border's stays open, because they did have the courtesy to keep the Varsity as close to original as they could. If they close, then the building will most likely be redeveloped, like the Liddicoats/Z Gallery, which will soon be the freaky glass Apple store.

I will not be swayed by ebooks for years. I enjoy print, holding a book, seeing how many pages are left, being able to give a used book away, etc. I find it disturbing that due to technology we cant leave the house with less than $500 of electronic junk on our person. Have you ever owned a first edition novel? Have you gotten a kindle wet yet? Would you rather have your backpack stolen with a 50cent used paperback in it or a $300 ebook?

"I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany." - Ron Burgandy


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 21, 2011 at 4:41 pm

It was the Friends of The Varsity Theatre, and especially Dennis Backlund, that conducted the research to show that under California environmental law that this historic structure could not be torn down, as was the original plan. The terms of the agreement to change the use of the property not only required that the historic elements be preserved, but that the renovated structure be "reversible," i.e., could be changed back into a theatre.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bailin on balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 21, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Fred, maybe you should get yoriko interested in this project. After all she must have plenty of free time on her hands now (i mean she can only be spending so much time polishing her "badge of honor l from get last failed election bid. Of course you will have to promise get that there will not be any new net car trips in the city, but as get chief acolyte that should.not be a problem.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 21, 2011 at 9:15 pm

>> The terms of the agreement to change the use of the property not only required that the historic elements be preserved, but that the renovated structure be "reversible," i.e., could be changed back into a theatre.

COOL!

One thing I like about the Stanford and the Palo Alto Sq. theaters is that MOSTLY, there are not rude, loud, lunatics that go there and litter and talk and flash their cellphones, there are quiet well behaved civilized human beings ... I wonder if we could not support another pleasant downtown theater now that most of the ones that used to exist there are gone, and the market is much smaller?

I still have an old Varsity Dollar .. a copper one, not the paper ones! ;-)

They should get a restaurant and a movie/poster memorabilia shop to move in with the new theater, that could be pretty nice.

I would just hate to see it take business away from the Stanford.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by jb
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 25, 2011 at 3:33 pm

About those paper books. They can be passed on to someone who could not afford one, to someone learning how to read. The net sum of books in the world is "more books" after print editions are let loose. And censoring them requires that they all be collected (harder on the censors) rather than just erased from a server.

AS to an e-book, the book is just a bunch of electrons, absolutely nothing at the hands of a kid with a good big magnet.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Mixx, Scott's Seafood replacement, opens in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 12 comments | 3,396 views

To Cambodia With Love
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 2,603 views

Ten Steps to Get Started with Financial Aid
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 2 comments | 2,399 views

Life in fast forward
By Jessica T | 3 comments | 1,384 views

Early Campaign Notes: City Council
By Douglas Moran | 7 comments | 932 views