Borders files for bankruptcy

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The Wall Street Journal reported that Borders Group, Inc, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday and will close 30 percent of its stores shortly. Borders Group owns Borders, the book store chain that has gone toe to toe with Barnes and Noble in the big, brick and mortar book store space. 

It's no secret that brick and mortar book stores have been under tremendous pressure. This is especially true of smaller independent varieties, but caught between changing markets, Borders was not immune to the problems facing the smaller stores. They were under pressure from Internet sellers, particularly Amazon, but their biggest problem was failure to develop an eBook reader as Amazon has done with the Kindle and Barnes and Noble has done with the Nook.

Instead Borders tried to cobble together a group of loosely knit eBook readers and offer them at the stores. This started with Sony Readers exclusively and expanded to include Kobo, and Velocity Micro readers. At one time, they let Amazon run their online bookstore (talk about sleeping with the enemy) and today they have ceded online sales to Kobo.

Having a branded reader like the competition might have gone a long way toward establishing Borders as a legitimate competitor to Kindle and Nook. As it was, it seems to have lost its brand identity by trying to sell readers from other brands. 

To their credit, Borders did a decent job of including additional content about authors on the site, such as YouTube videos with author interviews and insights, but it hasn't been enough. 

Even with the bankruptcy filing, it's hard to know what will happen to the book-selling giant. Bankruptcy doesn't necessarily spell the end of the company, but it really needs to get a concrete vision and strategy in place to survive moving forward with less brick and mortar and more zeros and ones, something it's seems to have been incapable of doing to this point.

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