The story of Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Borders Group, which at its climax operated seven Borders bookstores in the Indianapolis area, has reached the last page of its final chapter — Chapter 11 bankruptcy, that is.
After failing to find a buyer, the chain obtained court approval yesterday to liquidate. Borders stores in Carmel, downtown Indianapolis and at River Crossing Boulevard closed earlier this year, following the bankruptcy filing in February.
Going-out-of-business discount sales at the Castleton Square Mall, 7565 U.S. 31 South, Indianapolis International Airport and Noblesville locations could begin as early as today, running through September. Although The New York Times reported last Monday that Borders’ competitors have considered taking over a few stores, it is unclear if any are in Indiana.
In a statement, Borders Group President Mike Edwards blamed the liquidation on ”headwinds” such as “the rapidly changing book industry, eReader revolution, and turbulent economy.” The Times article expressed publishers’ fears that the loss of a major chain like Borders, with its unique opportunities for customer browsing, could decrease impulse buying and book sales generally.
Borders’ local legacy is mixed. Although its stores hosted book signings and other events, they never fully realized their potential as social hubs for Indianapolis’ literary community. Independents such as Big Hat Books and Bookmamas have been more successful at that.
It’s hard to prove, but Borders’ stores (and Barnes & Noble’s) may have had a “Wal-Mart effect” that contributed to the extinction of newsstands and smaller-sized chain bookstores in Indianapolis, especially downtown.
On the other hand, Borders’ Marion County locations were all accessible via public transit, no mean feat in these parts.
Borders is survived locally — for the moment — by several Barnes & Noble locations, one Books-A-Million, a few indies and assorted used bookstores. And, of course, by the Internet, which may one day have to shoulder the entire burden of the globe’s written works by itself, Atlas-style. Then, should Atlas ever shrug, we’ll be screwed.