A closing Borders bookstore in Chicago has told customers where they can find a restroom. “Try Amazon,” the sign reads.
This is a humorous, perhaps bitter ‘sign’ that the publishing world can no longer survive off-line. The second-biggest U.S bookseller has been struggling to compete with rivals like Amazon and Wal-Mart, digital readers and e-books.
Last month, Borders filed for bankruptcy and announced the closure of more than 200 of its 643 stores. Chief executive Mike Edwards is fairly optimistic that “a successful reorganization can be achieved.” But Barnes & Noble, the largest U.S. bookstore chain, has taken digital publishing more seriously with its Nook e-reader, introduced in late 2009 as a challenger to Amazon’s successful Kindle reader.
(More on TIME.com: E-books: Why Barnes & Noble Avoided Borders’ fate)
Borders continues to operate supported by $505m in debtor-in-possession financing arranged through GE Capital. But authors are panicking, because books will be carried in 200 fewer Borders stores, and there are fears that they might skip mid-list titles and only invest in names they know they can sell. And it’s bad news for employees too, because as many as 6,000 will be out of work.
What was once a thriving corporate chain in the 90s, which amused both book buyers and browsers because of its stunning size and sophistication, might soon be a nostalgic memory.
(More on TIME.com: The e-book era is here: Best sellers go digital.)