Wednesday, February 16, 2011


If you haven't yet heard, mes auteurs, Borders Group has filed Chapter 11. While this means a lot of things for the industry, I'd like to follow up on Monday's post and list just a few potential changes/repercussions you might see as authors.

In unimpeachable Bullet-O-Vision™:

· Borders will continue to operate. As I explained on Monday, Chapter 11 bankruptcy doesn't necessarily entail liquidation. Although Borders plans to close many individual stores, the chain itself will still do business while under bankruptcy protection. This means you can still buy books there and, just as importantly, your books can still be carried there.

· Borders will likely be even more cautious about investing in midlist authors. While their new loans from GE Capital will allow them to finance, among other things, the purchase of new stock, Borders is not in any position to gamble. They're likely, in my opinion, to skip more midlist titles than usual and to only spend their money on names they know they can sell. This will be exacerbated by the aforementioned store closings.

· Publishers may offer lower advances, especially on midlist titles. The industry has depended on Borders as a major market for new titles. If the publisher can't trust Borders to take a sufficiently large number of copies of a given title, this will factor into their profit and loss statements. As a result, they may advance less money to authors in order to increase the odds that any given acquired title will earn out.

· Electronic titles will probably be largely unaffected. Borders was quite the Johnny-come-lately to the e-book scene, and as a result their sales in that sector are dwarfed by their competitors'. Further, even if their sales were a large subset of the market, brick-and-mortar store closings wouldn't really affect their ability to distribute titles electronically via their on-line storefront.

· Local author events may be canceled. Fewer stores means fewer venues for readings, signings, &c. Towns in which Borders is really the only bookstore will, as you might imagine, be the most affected. You can switch to buying books on-line if your local Borders store closes; not so with author events. At least, not yet.

A lot remains to be seen, however, so I'll post periodic updates on Borders' bankruptcy filing and its impact on the industry as events unfold.


  1. I've wondered about what will happen with author signings and similar events if bookstores were to disappear. Authors will still find away to put in some face time with fans and potential readers, right? Maybe doing readings at cafes instead? They'd have to cart around their own books to sale though...or readers can buy them instantly on the ereaders that everyone in the future will be carrying...No, the same impulse won't be there when the book isn't physically stacked on a table in front of them waiting to be signed, huh?

    Book fairs! There'll always be book fairs like the L.A. Times' Festival of Book, won't there?

    Anyway, it's sad that this happened, but at least Borders will still be around, even if scaled down.

  2. thanks for this, Eric.

    brilliant, as usual!

  3. It's so sad. I hope Borders finds a way to bounce back somehow.

  4. Well, it's not as bad as I though, but it's still pretty sad that the midlist will get hit like this. But hey, I have to look at myself here for a minute. Fifty percent of the time, I buy books written by dead people.

  5. A good post about a depressing topic. As is always the case, Bullet-O-Vision™ indeed proves unimpeachable.

  6. It makes sense that the P & L statements might result in lower advances *groan*. The only bright spot is e-sales and authors not being subjected to readings with an audience of three?

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