Sunday, February 13, 2011

10 reasons Borders should croak

1. To remind publishers that their industry consists of making books first, spreadsheets second.

2. To allow a host of talented book people to get back to work in adapting to new technologies and financial terms, instead of nursing a sick and contagious retailer.

3. To serve as an object lesson in the consequences of bad management.

4. To reduce the amount of linear shelf space devoted to books in dozens of overbuilt markets across the country.

5. To vindicate all of the fine book people who originally built Borders and worked for the company during the first three decades of its existence. They are the ones who watched in horror as a succession of greedy fools and outside operators -- men and women with no feeling for the culture of books -- presided over the company's decline, with no thought except for their own compensation.

6. To give independent booksellers a chance to reestablish beachheads in communities that were overrun by chains.

7. To prove, yet again, that repeating the retail sloganeering of the day -- "category management," "just-in-time inventory," "synergistic merchandising" -- accomplishes nothing unless you actually do what you say you're going to do.

8. To show exactly how worthless a highfalutin mission statement really is. (One sure sign that a corporation is sick at the core -- the bullshit mission statement. An honest mission statement would read: "Our mission is to make a profit, pure and simple." Unfortunately, Borders couldn't even carry out that mission.)

9. To illustrate the pernicious effects of untrammeled growth, the same "growth is good" ideology that led to the mortgage meltdown and financial crisis of the last four years.

10. Finally, to end the silly speculation, the enervating news stories, and the distracting pronouncements of impending doom. We don't need to be reminded these are tough times -- we're living through them. But it's bracing and ultimately inspiring to see the wheat properly separated from the chaff.

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