Borders: Things Are Getting Shakier

bordersAfter years of troubling reports, it appears that Borders could indeed be on the verge of catastrophe.

After what should have been a profitable holiday season, the chain missed payments to publishers and has been trying—without much success, as reported yesterday by Publishers Weekly—to negotiate terms. Publishers are, quite understandably, tired of playing ball.  To make matters even murkier (and financial matters usually are), it was announced late on Thursday that Borders secured new financing which may buy them some time.

A few days ago, the Washington Post ran an article that explained more clearly than any piece I’d read before exactly what happened to the once glorious Borders empire.

I won’t attempt to summarize the article here since it’s such a lucid account of exactly how the company got itself in this pickle, but it’s hard to imagine the blindness of company executives who failed to grasp the importance of the Internet (crucial mistake number one) and eBooks (crucial mistake number two). I mean, heck, who knew the Interwebs was going to catch on?  And eBooks?  Who’d-a-thunk dedicated readers would so eagerly embrace an easier and faster way to get their hands on the books they love?

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PW Select: Boon or Bust for Self-published Authors

Publishers Weekly is a trade journal read primarily by booksellers and librarians (although some authors subscribe because of the industry news, and book geeks like me will spring for a copy now and then). They review releases from large and small publishers alike, and their reviews are respected by industry professionals who use them to determine which books to order.

Last week, their reputation took a hit because of a new program, PW Select. PW describes it as “a quarterly supplement announcing self-published titles and reviewing those we believe are most deserving of a critical assessment.”

Authors have to pay to be included – without promise of a review. The listing will include include author, title, price, description, etc., which is not a lot to go on if you’re a bookseller deciding which books to order. PW explains “We briefly considered charging for reviews, but in the end preferred to maintain our right to review what we deemed worthy.” They also promise that at least 25 of the titles will get reviewed, but for now, there is no way to tell how many books will be listed. Will that be 25 out of 100? Or 25 out of 500? Or 25 out of 1,000 or more?

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