Borders Kaput, Independents Say It's No Big Deal
Major book retailer Borders announced in July that it would be clearing out its inventory and closing its doors. Local bookstore owners say their sales probably won't increase.
The Borders closing announcement may have failed to shock many book lovers. The bookselling megastore has been in bankruptcy proceedings all year, closing stores left and right, to the delight of many a frugal reader around the country.
But after those in search of a good deal strip the dwindling retailer of every last clearance stickered paperback, will independent bookstores in the area gain future customers?
Doug Robinson of Eagle Eye Book Shop doesn't think so.
The co-owner and general manager of the bookstore on North Decatur Road said that he is unsure of the effect that Borders’ closing will have on his store, but he doesn’t expect it to be great.
“We hate to see a bookstore go out of business because it bothers us as a general bookstore business," Robinson said. "On the other hand we see it as it may help our business. A little, but not a lot.”
Only a few weeks before the Borders announcement, Atlanta Book Exchange in Poncey-Highland closed its doors and turned the space over to an eco-friendly boutique.
Robinson doesn’t expect the customers to come flooding through the doors any time soon.
He cautioned that it may “only help a little” because the closest closing Borders is almost five miles away on Ponce De Leon Avenue, too far to have any real effect.
His store also caters to a different market.
“We think Borders discounting will really affect Barnes and Noble more than our store,” Robinson said.
The Eagle Eye Book Shop which houses "over one mile of new and used books" according to the sign out front, competes for customers with author visits and book signings.
A Cappella Books on Moreland Avenue in Little Five Points also hosts author signings around town, while focusing on niche markets and hobbyists. The type of store a clean-cut mom and her teen daughter may have shied away from in the past in favor of a big-box, book retailing giant like Borders.
It’s that individual focus that keeps independents running, even in the face of e-readers and Amazon, said owner Frank Reiss in an opinion piece published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"We're a very different type of store than a Borders. That's why we've been able to survive," Reiss said in an interview with Patch. "The independent stores that tried to compete directly went away a long time ago."
The bookseller told Patch that he is “rather doubtful” that business would increase due to the closing.
Reiss notes that the demise of Borders means that independent bookstores may make a comeback, but not one involving moneybags.
"Readers continue to migrate to electronic devices. The Internet has erased the thrill of hunting for out-of-print books and their monetary value. Few people will pay retail for new books," Reiss said in his AJC piece.
Instead, he feels the comeback would be a return to what bookstores were before the retail giants came in and set up shop in well-manicured shopping malls.
"There are always new people coming to shop. We'll get new customers but we're losing customers just as fast if not faster," he said. "We do have a very good loyal base of customers that we've built up over more years than Borders was in business."
Borders representatives did not return calls about the official closing date of the Ponce de Leon Avenue store. Reports indicate the store could close in September.