The Wall Street Journal reports that Borders is preparing to enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The filing could be processed as early as Monday, which will lead to 200 to 250 store closures, This sounds terrible, and it really is. However, it’s definitely not as bad as it could be.

First, I’d like to get the concrete facts out of the way. Borders will close 200 stores, or roughly 1/3 of its entire retail presence. The company has been fearing a liquidity crisis for some time now, and showed roughy $500 million in debt at the end of fiscal 2008. Borders hired AlixPartners to help the ailing corporation turn itself around, and has been consulting with bankruptcy advisors in an attempt to weather this storm.

Now… how does this apply to anime fandom?

Frankly, this is 200 to 250 locations that stocked deeply on manga, completely gone. Eliminated from the market. Or, to put a relative spin on things, this is a quarter of the total closings in the Musicland incident, and two and a half times the number of stores lost when Tower Records closed up. This will absolutely hurt in the short term. Publishers across the spectrum will be impacted (well, maybe not Digital Manga, but that’s another story entirely). At the same time, we will no doubt hear a few stories going forward about falling profits, layoffs, or worse.

Still, I have to try to keep a positive outlook in this. After all – the manga industry is currently shifting, as digital storefronts evolve and expand, and formats like the Kindle and iPad open new frontiers for publishers. Also, unlike the Musicland incident, 400 stores remain open. There is still a chance for the chain to change its fortunes, and return to profitability, which would ensure that, at least these locations remain in the future.
I hope that the industry can shift, and brace for the impact of this change – the writing is absolutely on the wall this time, and there is indeed some time to react. The next few months will be a crucial period, and one that nobody should turn a blind eye to.