The Borders post-mortems continue. Here’s a couple more of them that are particularly worthy of note.

First, on Quora, another Borders ex-exec sets down his thoughts. Mark Evans, former Director of Merchandise Planning & Analysis, has a six-point analysis of why the store failed. Though he goes into detail for each one, his list comes down to the following reasons:

  1. Failure to adequately address the Internet sales channel and the subsequent e-book market.
  2. Poor real estate strategy.
  3. Over-investment in music.
  4. Over-reliance on assortment size to compete as opposed to efficient operations.
  5. Failure to build efficient systems and processes.
  6. Branding failure.

He brings up some interesting points I hadn’t seen mentioned elsewhere—particularly the over-investment in music, and the associated problems the failure of the physical music market caused when those sections disappeared from Borders stores. He also touches on the Internet failure and the inefficient inventory management system brought up by former Borders UK exec Philip Downer.

He doesn’t mention another failure Downer pointed out, which was Borders’s attempt to become a cool place to hang out at the expense of actually selling books. That’s left to TechCrunch’s noted purveyor of sarcasm, Paul Carr:

The company took a big gamble a decade or so ago in focusing on the notion of bricks-and-mortar book shopping as an “experience”. Stores were built with coffee shops and comfy chairs and warm little nooks in which people could hang out all day and read all the book and magazines they wanted. Unfortunately, after finishing their coffee and their free reading time, many of those people subsequently went home and took advantage of Amazon’s significant discounts to actually buy books. Only those few customers who demanded instant gratification needed to actually pay full price in store.

Then, with the arrival of the Kindle, even those impatient shoppers had no need to visit Borders.

They really didn’t do a very good job welcoming people in the Internet age. The few times I stopped into a Borders before this, their wireless Internet was one of very few that still required payment of subscription fees for use. Even when I stopped in at the liquidation sale, I couldn’t hop on with my iPod Touch; clicking on the login page didn’t do anything. Perhaps it requires Flash.

Carr thinks that the disappearance of Borders might lead to a resurgence of independent bookstores in areas lacking Barnes & Nobles (such as San Francisco), which can provide in-person experiences such as authorial readings or signings that Amazon can’t hope to match.

I think he may be a little too optimistic, but find myself hoping he isn’t. But perhaps coupled with Google’s plan to allow indie bookstores to take a cut of the e-book market, it will at least keep them alive a little longer.

On a related note, The Consumerist touches on the fact I mentioned a few days ago: Borders’s going-out-of-business sale is not a good place to find bargains. The piece quotes blog posts by named and anonymous Borders employees about their experiences during the sales. Even locations that are staying open are getting confused customers bleeding over into them and getting angry when things aren’t on sale. (Found via eBookNewser.)


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