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Is There a Future for Bookstores?

In National News on July 27, 2011 at 5:28 am
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Just this week, 14-year-old Blake Burmaster bought two paperbacks at the Borders at Baybrook Passage in Webster.

“He loves to read,” said his father, Troy Burmaster, a nurse who lives in La Porte.

Both father and son say they are sad that Borders stores will close later this year, but Troy Burmaster said he understands that “everybody’s going with the digital age.”

Still, Blake prefers physical books over e-books because he finds “staring at little tiny screens” annoying.

“We’ll still keep going to Barnes & Noble and Half Price Books,” his father said. “As long as there is something.”

Bookstore owners hope there are a lot more people like the Burmasters out there. But for many who sell physical books, the closing of the Borders chain is another sign that the industry is hurting.

Bookstore owners hope there are a lot more people like the Burmasters out there. But for many who sell physical books, the closing of the Borders chain is another sign that the industry is hurting.

On Thursday, the judge overseeing the Borders Group bankruptcy approved its deal with liquidators, the Associated Press reported, while Borders is still seeking creditor approval of an agreement to sell about 30 to 35 stores to Books-A-Million. Going-out-of-business sales will start at Borders stores as soon as today.

Analysts say the shuttering of Borders may help its chief rival, Barnes & Noble, temporarily. But in the long run, it may be hard for the big-box chain and other booksellers to withstand the sea change in the industry as e-books gain acceptance.

Barclays Capital analyst Alan Rifkin speculated in a recent client note that the 705-store Barnes & Noble chain could absorb 10 to 15 percent of Borders’ annual revenue, or $220 million to $330 million, as a result of the Borders closure.

But he also expects that the rise in e-book sales will lead to a decline in demand for big bookstores.

Officials from Barnes & Noble declined to comment.

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Source: David Kaplan, The Houston Chronicle

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