Earlier today, Bloomberg reported that Borders is in dire straits. With share prices in the toilet (86 cents a share, as of closing today), a debt that continues to worsen year over year, and a missed set of expectations last quarter, a liquidity shortfall or worse seems to be almost imminent. As an anime and manga fan, this has me a little more than worried.
Anyone who remembers the Musicland incident knows where I’m coming from. For those that don’t, in 2006, Musicland filed for bankruptcy. Musicland was the parent company for a number of huge anime carriers, namely Suncoast, Sam Goody, and Media Play. The company’s failure was a first, painful step that led us into the quagmire we’re in now. After all, fewer places to ship means less product on shelves, which means less merchandise sold to the general market.
With Borders showing such a difficult position, I can’t help but get a bit nervous. After all – Borders is the second largest book seller in America, eclipsed only by Barnes & Noble. Unfortunately, the company hasn’t shown a profit since 2006, and their UK branch was placed into administration, or the equivalent to Chapter 11. Jefferies & Co. is helping to restructure, but if this fails, and the company does fail, the situation will be dire. 517 Borders stores and 466 Waldenbooks stores would be snuffed out. that’s 983 retail locations that deal heavily in manga. This is over 100 more stores more than Musicland boasted when they went under. To say this wouldn’t have a massive, negative reaction on the manga industry is both naiive and foolish. On the contrary, the potential fallout could be decimating, especially to companies like TOKYOPOP, who underwent restructuring in 2008, and was forced to forfeit many of its high-performing titles when Kodansha declined to renew the licenses.
Of course, this is currently just speculation. Nothing is final until the final bell tolls and the liquidators start rolling in. Things could absolutely improve. However, I’m still not going to withhold concern or commentary now, when it’ll be far too late to say anything later.
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