We Didn’t See It Coming

“No one foresaw what e-books would do to physical book sales. The Kindle and Apple’s popular iPad turned the world upside down.”

This is what Mike Edwards, the former CEO of Borders said in his “exit” interview with the Detroit News in September.

BusinessWeek’s post mortem would seem to confirm that narrative. Borders moved big into physical media of music and movies as just consumers started to shift to digital. The chain forms a partnership with Amazon to manage their online store, an arrangement that lasts until 2008. The company buys stationary retailer Paperchase as people move to texting and email. When Borders rolled out their new concept stores, in-store download stations are at the center of their strategy. The very use of information technology seemed to challenge the company as they were unable to integrate acquisitions and take advantage of larger scale of economics.

So as we are celebrate our first holiday season without Borders, it is fine to express our sadness for the loss of jobs and the loss of place where books can be shared, but let’s make sure we also express sadness for the poor decisions made by executives over the course of a decade that ultimately lead to the company’s demise.

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