With the news that Borders Books is shutting down, I had another question at the back of my mind yesterday: what happens to Kobo, the inexpensive e-reader produced mainly via Indigo Books, but in which Borders was a minor investor?
The Quill & Quire blog provided an update today: Kobo issues statement about Borders liquidation. Borders apparently has an 11% stake in Kobo, and there are conditions around the shares which may prevent them from being liquidated in quite the way people want to do. So Kobo has filed objections (along with other creditors) in U.S. bankruptcy court.
I also wondered what would happen to registered Kobo customers. But Kobo has already been gradually trying to transition their accounts directly to Kobo and away from Borders, so it sounds like everything will still function for these people the way it’s supposed to.
What a mess. And adding this extra financial stress onto Kobo is just one of the almost countless ripples flowing out from the Borders dissolution.
This news is kind of awful, coming right on the heels of yesterday’s post about bookstores closing. Remember how I speculated that the big chains may well fade away and disappear, while smaller, independent bookstores might actually survive and eventually thrive again?
Well, unfortunately, we’re one step closer to testing the theory. It’s probably not a total surprise, after Borders filed for bankruptcy in February, and closed a bunch of stores. But now, according to this NPR article (Bye Bye Borders: What The Chain’s Closing Means For Bookstores, Authors and You) it’s official: the chain is closing altogether.
This isn’t just a devastating blow to the store and its thousands of employees (though it really is an awful blow to them). It’s a huge blow to its creditors — and I’m not just talking about the people the stores owed rent to, or owed payments for office supplies. Among its creditors are some big publishing houses. Which means that the chain closing has just weakened the already tested foundations under most large publishing houses in North America. They themselves are now affected financially.
Which, in turn, will affect an awful lot of authors. Yes, there’s always self-publishing, which can be a lot of work, and many authors don’t have the resources or the stamina to do the sort of publicity and distribution that a lot of the big publishing houses still did. Plus — those publishing houses had editors. A huge lot of self-published books really, really need editing. If they don’t go through an editor, there’s often nobody there to tell the author, “This paragraph stinks,” or “This is a superfluous character, and excising him/her from your manuscript will make it so much better.”
So authors have lost a lot as a result of this bookstore chain closing. I’m afraid we haven’t yet begun to see just how far the ripples of this loss will travel. I really worry about where the industry is going.
Alas, poor Borders. We’ll miss you.