Wednesday, November 11, 2009

200 Waldenbooks Killed by Borders

Borders, Inc. announced last Thursday that it is closing 200 Waldenbooks in January - leaving only 130 across America. (For a full listing of stores, go to the Borders News Releases site.)

I cannot begin to describe to you how angry and sad this makes me feel!!! I could write several pages of rant, but will refrain. Let me just sum up...

Borders stores are losing money and this past year, Waldenbooks managers were told it was the Waldens side that was floating Borders and keeping it viable. Well, the company is in even bigger financial trouble now. Their solution? Close the Waldenbooks, even if the store itself is profitable. (What? Close down the non-profitable Borders? That would actually make SENSE!!!)

I saw the list on Saturday - most of my favorite stores will be gone in January. The two stores in Chesapeake, VA that I visited for signings on Saturday will both be gone. (There used to be seven Waldens in the area - by January, there will be none.) I had to say goodbye to two managers, friends I've known for several years now. And it was heartbreaking!! I couldn't believe it was my last visit ever to their store - and doubtful I'll see those people again except on FaceBook.

Most shocking in North Carolina is the loss of the New Bern Waldenbooks. That's Nicholas Sparks' home store!!! He appears there twice a year, whenever a book is released. The manager, Ann, has trained ALL the managers in the area. And she'll be gone soon. (I'm appearing there in two weeks and it SUCKS that I will have to say goodbye to Ann, Leslie, Wendy and the others...)

Many of these stores ARE profitable, too. I've no idea what the criteria was for the decicion, but like closings in the previous years, it makes no sense. Yes, online stores and ebooks are taking away the physical stores' business. But for Borders, Inc. to close 200 Waldenbooks just because the Borders stores are doing bad is DUMB business!

The only saving grace is my favorite Waldens will stay open - Southern Pines, NC. Charleston and Sumter SC will also remain open. There will be a total of six stores remaining in the Carolinas...

Spunky is really, really sad. These were my favorite stores to visit...


  1. I fel your sadness. The smaller bookstore are profitable because people feel like they matter in those, whereas in stores like Borders and even Barnes & Nobles (which I love) you are just a number to them. The corp heads at Borders probably irrational think that they have to keep the big stores open. The problem is the people at corp. don't go in the stores and don't think about or care how their decisions affect their loyal employees and customers. That mentality is why so many people shop online. If we as customers don't matter why should we go to the stores. Many many years ago I managed a small family owned book store chain and we went under when Barnes & Noble and Borders came to town. That was when those chains were just starting and everyone was enamored with the shiny and new. In our current economy the big guys need to realise we have less to spend and how we feel in their store is more important than how many categories and different things they can offer. If we want that much variety we can go to Walmart, and the books are cheaper there, too. So sad! My heart goes out to those who work at the Walden's that are closing.

  2. I found my favorite Waldenbooks in Edison Mall on that list. How sad. I really liked the employees there and The Mall needs a bookstore. Borders business plan makes no sense - it seems as if they are doing all they can to be sure people buy from Amazon!

  3. I agree that their "logic" makes absolutely no sense! They should be closing the non-profitable Borders stores - not the stores that are doing well and showing profit. Go figure.

  4. One of the things that I liked about Waldenbooks was the location--I liked the idea that someone could go to a mall for clothing and end up spontaneously buying a book. This doesn't happen as much in a strip mall set up.

    I wonder if the Waldenbooks in Carolinas Mall is closing. I did a signing there about a month ago...

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  5. There aren't any Waldens in CT anymore, to my knowledge at least. As a kid my mother would take me and my sister to the mall for errands, and our last stop was always Waldens. That's where my addiction started.

    I always made it a tradition, there on out, to stop at Waldenbooks whenever I went to a mall to pick up that "one last thing" before I left--and ended up with two or three books. And a Lindt chocolate truffle for the ride home.

    To quote Charlie Brown, **SIGH**

  6. We have a Waldens Books in our mall in Mission Viejo. I think they recently replaced the Waldens sign with a Borders sign, so hopefully it will remain. Its one of my favorite book stores and the staff is awesome.

    Stephen Termp

  7. So, let's see, we'll close the profitable Waldens in the area and that will force people into our less profitable Borders...someone missed out on business 101. No wonder Wal-Mart book sections are getting bigger in some super stores.

    But altho the books are available there, they just don't have the ambience of B&N Borders, or Waldens, OR a staff that knows about authors, books and whatnot.

    We only have one bookstore in our area, and it's privately owned and so far, not in trouble.

    Thanks for sharing this with us Diane!

  8. This is so heartbreaking. Albuquerque doesn't have a Waldens as far as I know. We have several Borders and one Barnes and Noble. It is very very discouraging.

  9. I agree, this is so sad. My advice to everyone is to go out and buy books from your local bookstores. Books make great gifts and buying from local stores can help make these sad closings stop. (May be too late for Waldens but not too late for others.)

  10. About 8 months ago Borders laid-off me and 750 other long term career employees. Instead of keeping the knowledgeable employees to help their business, they opted to save money on pay and benefits by kicking us loyal workers to the curb while retaining temporary and part-time workers, many of whom had been their less than 6-months and were just working there for extra money, caring nothing about the company. Having seen the state that Borders had fallen too before I was laid off and now having worked for B&N for 7 months, I can say I don't see much of a future for Borders. B&N is a world of difference in technology, quantity and quality of inventory, and most important of all: store morale. All of my ex-coworkers tell me that they hate their jobs since the new "corporate savior" CEO moved in last year. When I first started at Borders ten years ago, you were encouraged to be yourself and recommend books you liked, but now the employees are forced to push-sell books that they have never read or maybe don't even like to meet a weekly quota for that title. The stores are also extremely short-staffed, sometimes with only two or three employees closing at night, which isn't good for customer service or safe for the employees. Its a sad state of affairs. Borders lost its edge when it had its first corporate restructuring about 7 or 8 years ago. In order to increase profits for shareholders they laid off all the community relations employees, stopped paying for local musicians, stopped supporting local authors... basically each store ceased being a local community center and became national clones of each other, with nothing to differentiate them from their competitors. Now the internet, big-box discount stores like Wal~Mart, and electronic readers like Kindle fortell a dismal future for all major chain bookstores. Maybe its time for the resurgence of small independent stores that cater to a community or a particular genre.

  11. CC, you nailed it! That's why I hate BAM stores. And your area lost its Waldens almost four years ago...

    Jane, sorry your store is there, too.

    Crystal, what logic?

    Elizabeth, check the list. Only four Waldens will remain in NC after January...

    Kitten, that's a wonderful memory!

    Stephen, looks like yours is safe for one more year.

    Sia, it's the state of customer service!

    Karen, at least you have one very cool Page One!!! Still the best independent store ever.

    Nancy, books are on my gift list!

    An Anon, perhaps smaller independents will survive for that very reason. I know of several in NC that have loyal customers because the owners care.
    And that is terrible they have to promote certain books now at Borders. Know why? Because they are SO desperate for money, publishers are able to pay for verbal placement as well as physical placement in the store. And that hurts authors who are not bestsellers, which means most of us...

  12. I hate to see bookstores close, and it seems to be happening all too often. This many all at once really hurts.

    Straight From Hel

  13. What a sad and all too typical story...the decline of customer service seems to have happened across the board, in all kinds of businesses. But it's particularly sad when a business based on creative work and knowledge goes this route.

  14. Thanks for keeping us infomed, Diane. Sad news.

  15. It's sad, but a new Phonenix will rise from the ashes. Borders is obiously mismanaged and refuses to make the changes necessary to compete with other bookstore chains. An English author told me recently that stores are doing "Just fine" in the UK because they're diversifying by selling toys, etc. alongside their books. Here in te Rocky Mountain West indie bookstores have installed coffee bars and other attractions to add to their appeal. Not a bad idea.