Last updated: July 20, 2011 - 8:47am
Borders Group's imminent demise marks the first major casualty of the digital era in buying and reading books. But the store closings also will mean fewer opportunities for shoppers to wander the book aisles, a loss that will affect publishers as well as competitors and authors.
The bookseller is expected to ask a bankruptcy judge Thursday to approve plans to start liquidating as soon as Friday. By the end of September, the remaining 399 stores of the second-largest U.S. bookstore chain will be shut down for good. The closures will make Barnes & Noble the only national bookstore chain in the U.S., leaving some Americans to drive long distances to find the largest collections of new bestsellers or wile away the hours among the stacks. Publishers, meantime, are losing one of their biggest customers as they struggle with declining demand for physical books. Borders' failure will hasten the dramatic changes under way in how consumers buy and read books.
Meanwhile, rival Barnes and Noble is attempting to reinvent itself as a seller of book downloads, reading devices and apps. Barnes & Noble's digital strategy represents a costly investment, but it's one that appeals to Liberty Media Corp., which is offering $1 billion to buy the company.
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