Tuesday, December 22, 2009

R.I.P. Borders UK

Speed readers: please note the "U.K." in the title.

The Borders U.K. chain shuts its doors for the last time today, after a failed attempt to sell the chain as a going concern.The Bookseller reports today on a "wake" for the Books Etc. chain, which was bought by Borders UK and rebranded as Borders Express; I haven't heard if a similar event will memorialize the larger chain.

I don't think I ever shopped in a Borders U.K. store -- the only time recently I was in their trading area was the Glasgow Worldcon, and I did my book-shopping on site then -- but it's never good for an entire bookselling chain to go out of business.

I hope the British public are finding the books they want to read at the other outlets remaining, and will support those outlets that do offer the books they value. (You can read that as a slam against the supermarkets, if you want, but I really don't know the local situation, and I'm not sure who is the best current bookseller in the UK. I suspect the online retailers are running away with the market.)


The Brillig Blogger said...

I wil queue up a post for my own blog for later in the week with some more history on the Borders international efforts. They moved into the UK right around the same time that I started going to London Book Fair in the late 1990s, and I've been to a dozen of them.

Unknown said...

UK folks still have a few chains left, but few smaller bookstores that aren't specialized in collectibles/antiques or discount books. The big problem in the UK is that the books are somewhat overpriced as compared to the market in the U.S. I know some book-enthusiasts in the UK and they buy fewer books there precisely because they're not worth the money you have to pay for them. They use libraries or, if they need something in print, they'll go to Amazon, which is usually a few pounds cheaper.

But that may not be universal in England and prices may be different in the south. The folks I know are in the north.

Ian Sales said...

Borders tended to stick chiefly to the bigger cities - they had one in Leeds and York, but not in Sheffield or Nottingham, for example. So not that many places will actually be affected by the closures.

We have Waterstone's pretty much everywhere, so we'll still be fine for book shops. If anything, Borders had turned rubbish in the last couple of years, so I for one won't miss them much.

Iopgod said...

But also, for example, Warrington (which really isnt a large city). I suspect it depended where they were able to get cheap stores when they were still expanding.

In terms of physical bookshops which would reliably have a variety of new and recent releases in a variety of subjects, most of the UK is now down to just Waterstones. WH Smiths manages a much more limited selection of books while also trying to sell you chocolate. And Tescos or equivalent for mega-bestsellers (only).

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