Yikes, I’m behind on everything, including this half-finished post, which has been sitting in my dashboard for over a week.
The ABA calls the Borders liquidation “unfortunate right-sizing.” What I know is that it was a long time coming. Sure, it’s easy to blame the failure of the chain on the economic crunch–a helluva lot of struggling businesses have failed–but Borders has been circling the drain for a long time.
Now, I realize as well as anyone that a huge company with thousands of employees will have people with ready complaints, but Borders was a special case. They had a revolving door of MBA corporate heads that didn’t know squat about selling books. They moved too late on ebooks and then stupidly hitched their wagons to Amazon.com. Endless, endless fuck ups.
The sad thing is that they were once a terrific store.
Now they’re in liquidation. What does that mean for readers and authors in general? This NPR article by Rachel Syme gives a good rundown.
What does it mean for me in particular? Well, not that I’ll be picking up some books at a steep discount. Here’s what it comes down to: Borders ordered quite a few of my Twenty Palaces titles. Now that they’re gone my print runs will be that much smaller. Of course the numbers weren’t fantastic anyway, despite the “Best of the year” listings and good reviews. And they’re mass market originals at a time when mass market paperback sales are in the crapper.
Will ebook sales pick up the slack? It would be nice to think so, but I have a wait-and-see attitude. Okay, that’s not completely true; I have a pessimistic attitude, but I recognize my pessimism and try my best to counter it. Still, the loss of so much shelf space for selling books–and the announcement that B&N will be following Borders’s lead by reducing book stock in favor of non-book merchandise–is painful.
Anyway, I have a great book to read, some story-thinking to do (I need to come up with a new project to obsess over), and festival food to lunch on. The Twenty Palaces series certainly isn’t dead, but it’s a tough time for everyone. And there’s always the option for me to self-publish in the series, if that becomes necessary (I hope it doesn’t).