All good things must come to an end. Borders is the current exemplar of that old chestnut, coming to an end after a 40-year tenure in the book distribution industry. Today, anyone who visits the domain at Borders.com will automatically be redirected to BarnesandNoble.com, where they are greeted with a nice welcome message from Barnes and Noble CEO William Lynch, in addition to the offering of a free membership and coupon for 10% off one item.
A New York bankruptcy judge approved an acquisition that allowed Barnes and Noble to legally acquire Borders’ intellectual property via auction. The price? A cool $13.9 million, which was a steal of a deal considering the assets it got in return. The property? Oh nothing but the entire Borders online portfolio, complete with the Facebook page, Twitter account and its massive list of 48 million customers. The email addresses of those customers were also included, and this is where things really get interesting.
Let Us at ‘Em!
The sale was finally approved when Barnes & Noble countered with a proposal that would enable it to make contact with Borders’ customers and protect their personal information in the process. It sent along an email letting them know that their data was being transferred while giving them up to 15 days to opt-out and stop the transfer. As an added bonus, the company was allowed to include promotional offers in the notification messages it sent to notify customers about the transfer from Borders.
With Amazon just a click away, it is no wonder that Barnes & Noble was so anxious to move forward with its new digital property. Getting its hands on Borders’ intellectual assets gave the company access to a wealth of information, which apart from email addresses, also included residential addresses, telephone numbers and birth dates for nearly 50 million individuals. Observers suspect that its motives were driven by the desire to expand and make a greater impact with its marketing efforts during the upcoming holiday season. And while Barnes & Noble was forced to compromise, it still has the huge advantage that comes along with having the opportunity to engage such a large group of prospects already comprised of its target audience.
The End of an Era
At one time, Borders was one of the biggest names in the book distribution game, boasting more than 500 stores and nearly 20,000 employees as late as 2010. The company born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan had many good years up until 2006, which according to the Winston-Salem Journal, was the last year it made a profit. Hard times left Borders with no other choice but to look for a buyer, yet when potential deals fell through, its only options were to file bankruptcy and liquidate its remaining assets, in this case being the hundreds of stores it had left in the U.S.
The last stores closed their doors on September 18 while the approval of the sale to Barnes & Noble resulted in the complete shutdown of the once prominent bookstore’s web presence, officially closing the book on Borders for good.