Possible Effect Of Borders Closures On Independent Booksellers Unclear

by Sheila Ash on February 16, 2011

The closure of two Borders bookstores in Louisville does not necessarily mean an increase in sales for independent booksellers.

The Borders stores on 4th Street and Hurstbourne Parkway are among 200 stores closing across the country as Borders goes through Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Kelly Estep manages Carmichael’s in Louisville. She says it’s not clear what effect the closures will have on independent shops.

“Even people who buy a lot of books from us will still be buying books in other bookstores. That’s something that people who work in the book world always know. So does that mean that maybe someone who bought 50 percent of their books from us will now buy 70 percent of their books from us…possibly,” she says.

Estep says over the years, sales have either risen or remained steady at Carmichael’s.

The Borders stores on Bardstown Road and Shelbyville Road are not set to close at this time. For the complete list of stores closing, click here.

Borders officials would not comment on the closings at this time.

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{ 2 comments }

Michael O'Neill February 16, 2011 at 5:46 pm

For years, even before Amazon, etc., independent booksellers have been negatively affected by the large chain stores, notably Borders and Barnes and Noble. To shop at these chain stores was decried by the independents as equivalent to killing your father and sleeping with your mother. Now that Borders is on the ropes, the local independent from Louisville has said “it’s not clear what effect the closures will have on independent shops.”
Exactly what conclusion is the avid independent bookstore supporter supposed to derive from this rather “everything is always horrible” statement? Is this good news, bad news, or “whatever” news?
The independents should be popping Champagne corks and “not touching that dial” to see where Barnes and Noble ends up. Unless, of course, the “big chain stores” were no big thing to begin with.
OK, independents: Which is it?

Kelly Estep February 17, 2011 at 11:55 am

Please do not take my statement of “it is not clear” as one of unambiguous feeling…and in no way has Carmichael’s ever said “everything is always horrible.” I believe that many of the “everything is always horrible” bookstores have already, unfortunately closed leaving the chains to fill a need in many communities that will now be left as a gaping hole. We will continue to encourage people to buy locally, instead of online or in a chain, as we always have. However, we do find it in bad taste to think of the demise of 200 bookstores as a reason to celebrate. Most bookstores have accepted the chain stores as the reality for years and are trying to imagine the larger effect on the publishing industry (and therefore our small stores) that this will have. It could be enormous. It is also true that Border’s has had these problems for many years–most of us knew this was inevitable for them. What we try to focus on is the ability to continue doing what we do best and thinking about the future for our stores and our community. We also feel deeply for the thousand of employees–fellow book lovers–who are losing their jobs. What wasn’t mentioned in this article are my comments about our love of our industry, the continuing success of our stores, the wonderful relationship with local organizations and individual people that we have developed over the last 35 years, or the simple fact that we are lucky have jobs that we love!

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