Bellatrys, responding in part to Pat Cadigan’s original post, has a great analysis of Borders’ issues.
Now, I don’t know exactly why Borders is doing so much worse than B&N (appears to be) – unlike some past situations, I have no inside line on their struggles, I never worked for this Big Chain Bookstore, so I don’t know what’s led them to this ongoing-for-years flailing around. Without some sort of “tell-all” account from an insider, anyone’s guess is as likely to be wrong, and based on their personal worldoutlooks, as mine. But given my experiences in various businesses, and watching mistakes being made, Cassandra-like, I expect we’ll learn that there were stupid HP/Compaq or AOL/Time-Warner merger level mistakes, which might have been survivable in a time of plenty, but not after the Seven Lean Years we are living through.
They have hit an iceberg, financially speaking, and are taking on water faster than the pumps can get it out. They’ve got to cut down expenses. Not ordering/reordering stock is what you have to do when you’re running out of credit . Though they haven’t been owned by K-Mart for a long time, they are in a very similar situation to the one K-Mart was in in 2002 shortly before they declared bankruptcy, when they couldn’t get suppliers to make deliveries of stuff like dog food and other staples. Anything Borders does needs to be regarded not as Industry Standard Practice but rather as throwing all the cargo overboard, because turning the ship around and driving it backwards to harbor doesn’t look like it’s going to work.*