I think most of you have heard the news about Border’s bookstores closing across the country.  Almost 11.000 employees will lose their jobs once all of the stores are closed. The closing of the Borders Bookstores will be complete in September.  There are many lessons to learn here for managers and marketers. I would like to highlight a couple in this post. Also, check out the short videos, it gives you an idea of different peoples reactions to events of this nature. 

There a  couple takeaways from this news story.

First-off, Borders did not change with the times. It was behind in getting into reward cards. It also was behind with respect to e-book readers.  Because of its inability to react to a changing environment, it saw its sales go down and ultimately it started losing money.  Last week, my family and I went to a store closing sale and it was very clear that the sale was progressing quickly with book titles going from 20-40% off the current retail price. Also, it was very sad to see the coffee place, Seattle’s Best had already cleared out its storefront.  At one time Borders was a big player in this market and there was talk that it was going to buy-out Barnes & Noble. From a company perspective it really is easy to see why the company is selling-off its assets.

The second takeaway is the small, local bookstore.  A few years ago when these large bookstores came to the cities, the smaller bookstores were squeezed out because of their enormous inventory.  Now, those  stores that were able to survive, continue to make it and even thrive because they have a new loyal customer basis and they may be able to add more clients with these closings.  It is a wonderful opportunity for these smaller book dealers and points to a new type of store that can make a difference as a “local community leader”.  Check out this video clip of one small bookstore.

With technology changing the face of the publishing industry, book stores need to adjust. Some stores may grab hold of the technology and find ways to embrace and sell it. While others may hold on to their culture and find other ways to promote their book offerings and other supportive sales items.

What are your thoughts? If you were the manager of a small bookstore, how would you embrace this opportunity? It is always good to put yourself as a CEO  in another industry and think about the different ways you could compete in that particular market. I do this exercise from time to time and I watch how companies react.  I also ask owners to tell me what types of marketing initiatives they are trying and what they have found to be successful and not so successful.  It is a great way to stay connected and be on your toes.  You never know what is around the corner, and you, too could be in this position with your company and industry someday.