NEW YORK (
story reads like an epic saga -- one in which our tragically flawed hero seems destined for certain failure.
As the book-selling giant files for bankruptcy, the question of whether or not this is the final chapter for Borders has attained new currency. But if the
history of Borders
is any foreshadowing, dark days would appear to be awaiting the company, whether this week, next week, or further along in its narrative.
Chapter 1: "It Was The Best of Times..."
Today's No. 3 bookseller began as a two-room used bookstore in the college town of Ann Arbor, Mich., founded by brothers Tom and Louis Borders. But the brothers did more than pioneer an iconic book store -- they also designed a sophisticated inventory tracking system that superseded conventional databases of the time. (This, however, would prove to be one of the few instances in which Borders was a primary adopter of new technology.)
Borders' initial superstores boasted more than 100,000 titles at discounted prices. The company grew quietly until 1992, when it was acquired by
for an undisclosed sum. It was at this point that Borders' troubles began.
>>Borders' Mistakes: Chapter by Chapter
Kmart, which already owned
, had been struggling with its book business, unable to get its assortment and promotional levels quite right. The discounter was hoping that Borders could help rewrite its mistakes, but the acquisition prompted a flood of executive resignations, leaving Kmart to rebuild the newly formed company.
Just three years later, facing its own financial troubles and pressure from shareholders, Kmart decided to spin off the bookstores in an initial public offering, effectively creating what is now Borders Group.