Borders plans liquidation sales at closing stores

Posted Feb. 17 at 2:01 p.m.

Borders is planning liquidation sales in the 200 stores it is shutting down as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

“There will be opportunities for liquidation-type sales,” Borders spokesman Donald Cutler said Thursday. “Specifications about them will be revealed in the coming days and weeks.”

Borders, the second-largest book retailer behind Barnes & Noble, on Wednesday filed for bankruptcy and said it was closing down nearly one-third of its 659 stores. The closures are expected to be completed in April.

“It’s quite possible that some, if not all of the stores on the list of 200, might have a sale this weekend,” said Michael Norris, senior analyst with Simba Information, a provider of research and advice to publishers.

Norris has seen this type of thing before. In Stamford, Conn., a Borders-owned Waldenbooks held a fire sale before closing. So he plans to visit his local Borders in Milford, Conn., this weekend and see whether there are sales.

But there are other ways to deal with inventory, including returning books to their publishers. “Depending on the arrangements with the publisher, they might be able to sendthe books back,” said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners. “Or the publishers might say they don’t want these books.”

Johnson said this is the type of arrangement that gets hashed out in bankruptcy court.

The Chapter 11 filing lists 30 publishers as creditors to Borders. Penguin Putnam holds the largest claim, at $41 million, followed by Hachette Book Group, at $37 million, and Simon & Schuster, with $34 million.

“Penguin hopes that Borders will emerge from this process as a smaller but strong book retailer, and will work closely with Borders management to support this transition,” said Penguin spokesman David Zimmer.

But the publishers and Borders would not discuss their business relationship with CNNMoney.

Bestsellers and other books that are too valuable to be discounted might be moved to other stores.

“They could go on fire sale, but more realistically they will go to the other 400 stores that will still be running,” said Johnson.

Borders might even move heavily discounted books from successful stores slated to be shuttered.

“One of the great ways to get rid of obsolete inventory is to move it into one the stores that’s slated for closure,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst with NPD Group. “The book business is very good at moving inventory.”

Book retailers have tried to evolve by incorporating e-books, with mixed success.

But Greg Segall, managing partner with Versa Capital Management, which invests in bankruptcies including retailers, said that the real threat to brick-and-mortar book retailers is the rising prevalence of online retailers such as Amazon.

“I suspect there are people who have preference for and enjoy shopping in the stores, but obviously there are more people who do not,” he said.

Borders said that its gift cards will be unaffected by the bankruptcy process, as they will still be usable in the remaining stores and at

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  1. Jim A in Chicago Feb. 17 at 2:42 pm

    Are they selling their shelves? I could use some shelves for all the books I bought at Amazon, Abebooks, Alibris…oops!

  2. Michael J. Feb. 17 at 4:27 pm

    Nice ….. real nice. Move into a neighborhood, squeeze out the local book businesses, discover you can’t make it and file for bankruptcy leaving the neighborhood with no book sellers at all. Thanks, Borders

  3. Bernie B Feb. 17 at 6:34 pm

    A golden opportunity for Kroch & Brentano’s to make a triumphant return to the Chicago market . . . (if only it were true), or Half Price Books to expand with caution to parts of the Chicago market where they are not represented.

  4. Bruce Feb. 17 at 8:59 pm

    Michael, the local book shops would’ve been squeezed out now too with the growing popularity of Amazon and Kindles (although I will never use either)… unfortunately booksellers will soon be a thing of the past (like video stores and record stores). Don’t get me wrong, I think it sucks too, but that’s “progress” for you.

  5. Ray Feb. 18 at 12:24 a.m.

    This Sucks! Borders provided a open mic nite once a month. Where else can young musicians (<21)showcase their talent?

  6. Portageguy Feb. 18 at 7:39 a.m.

    “Bestsellers and other books that are too valuable to be discounted might be moved to other stores.”

    In other words, we ain’t getting the good stuff, only the crap that publishers don’t want.

    So if you buy any leftovers at Borders, you’re basically paying them to take out their garbage.

  7. mary Feb. 18 at 8:34 a.m.

    Portageguy, the fact that you could ever see any book as “garbage” shows exactly why poor Borders is in the hole. Our polity has become proud of its ignorance, and wallows in it. You should read (can you read?) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury to see what happens when people let themselves become proudly stupid.

  8. Frank Feb. 19 at 3:47 pm

    Sorry to see an educational value like this close. Never enjoy the one nearby they were too busy catering to potheads, bands, and open mic freaks. It’s a book store to be treated more like a library then a night club. B&N was more peaceful could sit in peace and enjoy the book I purchased. It’s no wonder they are closing if the other stores were run the same way.