The news of Borders Books demise wasn’t a shocker. In fact many had been predicting that unless a Hail Mary investment move happened the stores would close. And this week, that is indeed what happened. All stores are closing and more than 10,000 people have lost their jobs.
It’s been interesting to watch Barnes and Noble battle it out with Borders over the years. With the dawn of the digital age, the battle shifted and it wasn’t so much about battling each other as new avenues in which digital content could be acquired. Barnes and Noble did a better job of anticipating consumer preferences; such as with online purchasing of books via their website (as did Amazon) and even developing their own e-reader, the Kindle (as did Amazon). Further, one doesn’t have to look a lot further for the effects of the digital revolution than to look at what has happened with the video renting or the music business.
For a second I figured the people at Barnes and Noble would be celebrating the demise of their arch competitor but then I thought how it’s been in the printing industry these past few years. Oh sure, there were the first few print competitors that closed and the thought was; Yes! more opportunity for us. But then the next printing company closed and the next one – until there were hundreds regionally and thousands nationally and it wasn’t so great anymore.
I hate seeing companies fail…especially ones in which I didn’t have a problem. If the company abused their customers and had an all-around poor product or service, well then they deserved to go down. But I didn’t feel that way about book stores like Borders and I don’t feel that way about a lot of print shops that have closed either. They are good people caught up in a perfect storm.
This of course doesn’t remove our responsibility as small businesses. In fact it is more important than ever to sharpen our focus, vision, processes and people to compete in an increasingly competitive world. Those that do it successfully are rewarded and those that don’t…close like many book stores and print shops.