How Borders’ Troubles Will Boost Ebook Sales

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It seems that every news outlet in America is predicting that Borders will be filing for bankruptcy any day now. The news is not surprising, given Borders’ deepening debt problems and that pesky issue of publishers not shipping books to their stores.

Ebooks are a real wildcard in the Borders saga. Some are blaming ebooks for the decline of the second largest bookstore in the US. Others are saying that ebooks are the only way Borders can survive. And others are saying that if the chain liquidates, it will only help the ebook market.

In other words, ebooks represent two sides of the same coin for the bookseller. An article from the Wall Street Journal examines this further.

The Borders Downfall Will Boost Ebooks

Ebooks don’t need shelf space or valuable floor space. They don’t need a physical location. When Borders starts shuttering stores (it’s reported they’re going to close 674 stores), there will be less space for print books to call home.

With less bookstores for customers to choose from, they could be turning to ebooks in larger numbers. The ease and convenience of buying ebooks with the push of a button make them an alluring alternative to trying to track down a print book.

Can Ebooks Save Borders?

On the flipside, ebooks could be just what Borders needs to stay alive. Physical stores are costly to operate with expenses like employees, rent, utilities, shipping, etc. If Borders strengthens their digital presence then they wouldn’t need to rely on brick-and-mortar stores to survive.

Mark Coker, founder and chief executive of Smashwords, agrees:

Borders’s best bet for its future, he adds, is to make a greater commitment to digital reading. “Borders has an opportunity to save itself with e-books,” says Mr. Coker. “But they have a limited amount of time to make the jump.”

I agree. Borders needs to beef up their online ebookstore to offer a greater selection and partner with independent ebook publishers. I’ll even go one step further and say that Borders should develop their own branded eReader, rather than selling a variety of brands.

Borders was very late entering the digital market. Perhaps their biggest mistake was letting Amazon handle their online sales for so many years.

Ebooks can definitely hep Borders. While I can’t predict the result of a bankruptcy filing, they can’t afford to stick to the status quo with print. They desperately need to move into the future.

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