We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Is Border’s due for a financial re-organization?

One of our commentariat who goes under the pseudonym of ‘cowtipper’ posted this information earlier today. It simply cried out for front page coverage. – Ed

Borders really cannot afford to be irrational. Having just finished financial analysis between Borders and Barnes and Noble’s for our fund, the bottom line is that Borders is in trouble and can not afford to insult its customers right now. 2006 is a critical year and the market has been asked to give management ‘one more chance’ on top of probably too many chances, hoping for some magic to occur in the fourth quarter of this year.

Borders would not handle a boycott well. Look at their most recent 10K – they are promising lousy performance through the year and praying (if we can use the word) that the market ignores their terrible financial state until quarter four, 2006, where a miracle will happen and outstanding sales will occur. Things do not look good and only irrational optimism and hope in management’s ability can sustain the market to the fourth quarter. This management team is truly lost – listen to their conference call and the real status of their mini-Borders “Waldenbooks” makeover that the call admitted has been a complete miscalculation. I’d trust a magic eight ball more than these misplaced executives.

If an organized boycott evolved in the next few weeks, Borders is probably 30-60 days from corporate reorg or collapse, a new CEO and appeasement of the boycotters. Given their money appears to come from red-state people and not leftist anti-establishment small bookstore types, their actions are further proof that management is completely lost.

21 comments to Is Border’s due for a financial re-organization?

  • But with the problems Borders is having, is it a matter of the chicken or the egg? Is it the same management that has led to financial turmoil the same mentality/management that leads them to appease?

    They need an identity to sell moreso than be jack of all, master of none.

  • emy

    Now that is what can really be called blogs ‘flexing their muscles.

    The abiity to link a news story – the cartoon thingy, – with a financial story, and target a specific audience has to be at least, – ‘awesome’. Especially as the audience in question is more than likely to be predominantly Borders clients…

  • cowtipper

    Chicken or egg… indeed. Clearly, management shows indications of being lost. In addition to recommending the most recent 10Q, I’d encourage interested parties to check out the inside perspective offered by the Borders union employee website..

    In addition to a new thread recognizing concerns about the new Sharia Total Management (STM) program, there’s a particular thread discussing the important customer relationship program which management promised as a primary solution for rapidly growing expenses. Unfortunately, the program seems to have been designed to out-do the Federal tax code.

    For instance, the discount card only gives you a discount on your “personal shopping day” – which only happens once a month, and only if you bought $50 the previous month. You have to register your card online and fill out a good amount of personal data so they have a good profile on you. The employees are concerned the program is extremely complicated and customers aren’t patient enough to listen. The workable solution appears to be to not tell them about the actual terms of the plan – after all, the card is free and employees get perks for pushing it out right now. Perhaps the problems in the pilot will be learned before further rollout.

    Overall, I don’t sense a management team fully in control. They appear to have decentralized corporate policy as well, permitting local store managers implement STM by allowing local religious volunteers to determine how to place Islamic texts above all others on the top shelf and remove offending texts that are critical of Islam from view. Imagine how your local Borders would respond if the local LDS church officials declared that no coffee or chocolate sales were permitted.

    cowtipper

    p.s. Those of you that have been thinking about putting items like this on the top shelf with the Koran should understand that would be considered poor taste.

  • Verity

    And also let’s not forget them agreeing to put the koran on the top shelf. Why? Seriously, why?

    Why would they acceded to such an outlandish request from a tiny, tiny segment of the population? Why are they accepting instructions from people who aren’t even in the book trade about where to display this primitive book? Publishers have to beg for particular shelf placements. But the Religion of Peace comes in with a scimitar and they say, “You want special shelf space? No probs.” It’s not a marketing decision. They bowed to bullying.

    What Borders should do is tell the Islamoloons – who don’t, let’s face it, make much of a dent in Borders’ customer base – that a commercial decision has been made to stop stocking the koran because they need the shelf space for books that sell.

  • Borders a red state dependant? I dunno. I always got a far more lefty feel whenever I went into a Borders, than I get when I go into Barnes and Nobel, but maybe that’s just me.

    Maybe it is because my acupuncture-holistic-reiki-massage-earth-changes-crystal-power-Gore-is-too-conservative-lefty relatives always give me gift certificates from Borders and not B&N.

    But point taken. I get a bland, generic ‘could be a k-mart tomorrow’ feel every time I go into a borders as well. B&N has a more ‘book people’ feel to it, for some reason.

    so far as the boycott thing, I did not bother to send anything to Borders. But I did send an email into B&N urging them to stock the subject magazine, which I posted on my blog. I figured that would be a rare enough request that it might count for more than a request for a ban.

    At the time, I had heard they were still reviewing the issue. I have not heard either way if they have made a decision.

  • Borders was one of the first “mega-bookstores” I ever went into, back in the early ’90s (two aisle os sci-fi! Two!), and I always had a soft spot for them for that reason.

    But I hardly even go anymore. B & N (and of course Amazon) snuck to the front of the line at some point.

    C’est la market, no?

  • Improbulus Maximus

    I once commented to the local Borders manager that it was disgusting to see Mikey Mooron’s books face-out in literally every shelf of the history, politics, and military history sections, and that I also didn’t appreciate seeing the employees wearing anti-American T-shirts such as Che Guevara and such, and she actually defended it all. I used to spend about $100.00 a month there, now I don’t.

  • dearieme

    Enough of this generalised blethering, chaps: will they have a clearance sale of their jazz CDs?

  • ian

    And also let’s not forget them agreeing to put the koran on the top shelf.

    Has anyone firm proof of this? – it is asserted here but without any link. Nothing I can find on Snopes either way.

  • And also let’s not forget them agreeing to put the koran on the top shelf.

    Not at my local Borders. I checked last night, then walked out without buying anything (an exceedingly rare occurrence) and invested my funds in ardent spirits.

  • That Toledo Muslims thread sounds unexpectedly encouraging. Even as the poster reports he intimidated the local Borders to bow down in Dhimmitude by top-shelving the Koran, he and his fellow poster are whining that most Muslim-Americans don’t give a fig:

    “. . . there is no unity accept probably in Hell. Look why should they care most got what they wanted . . . to come to the US and thats it. Religion is a 2nd or 3rd priority for most.”

  • Kim du Toit

    I stopped buying books at Borders when their “political science” section contained the entire Noam Chomsky/Michael Moore/Molly Ivins oeuvre, and not a single copy of anything by Albert Jay Nock.

    And this in their store which is located in the most conservative voting district in the entire United States.

    Too bad, because their Travel section was better than B&N’s (eg. more maps), and their cooking section (per The Mrs.) ditto.

    Oh, well…

  • llamas

    I’m so old, I used to shop at the original Borders bookstore on State Street in Ann Arbor – back when it was a real bookstore and you could sit in a comfy armchair all day and read any damn’ thing you wanted. Because they had any damn’ thing you wanted.

    Nowadays, I dislike Borders intensely. I thought that complaints about their left-leaning tendencies were overblown until ‘Unfit for Command’ was published, and it was #1 on Amazon and the NYT – and my local Borders had Not One Copy. Not One. And the staff seemed just fine with that. Meanwhile, Michael Moore’s last-book-but-three, and Bill Clinton’s flop of an autobiography (in two languages, no less) were piled to the rafters.

    I regularly find books with a right-wing slant (Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, Kate O’Bierne) shelved backwards (spine-in, so you can’t see the title) or gloriously mis-shelved. Books with a left-wing slant, by contrast, are prominently displayed in large quantities in multiple places.

    And – the final topper – in their zeal to be politically correct – they have a cashier with full-on Tourette’s Syndrome. I am NOT making this up, I swear to God. Now, more power to this young man for working with his disability and making an honest living, and more power to them for hiring him, but does it seem like a smart business decision to use him as a cashier? Talk about a confusing retail experience . . . . .

    Amazon, all the way.

    llater,

    llamas

  • ec

    If they are so worried about profits, they should have thought about the effect this would have on poele like me that refuse to spend any money there until they stop voluntarily relinquishing free speech. If the right isn’t exercised, it is forfieted by proxy.

  • bookguy

    I am an employee of Borders, we are not given direstion to place the Koran on the top shelf. As to the rest of these comments I can not say if they are true or false.

  • Tritium

    I’m also a Borders employee, at our store in London (UK) we do have instructions to top shelve the Koran. Its kinda weird seeing you guys complain about it since we don’t really care to be honest. Pretty hard to see them up there too :) Its not like we’re being forced to sell it, not exactly a best seller, in 2 years I’ve sold one in total.

    As an amusing aside, the Bible is apparently our most stolen title and Buddhism the most lucrative!

  • Matt

    I work at a Borders store in northern Virginia, too… the Koran thing really isn’t that big a deal, since it’s in the Religion section, above the Islamic books. It’s not like we place it above the Bible… we actually have a giant “BIBLE” section, whereas the Koran gets a single top shelf. I wouldn’t say that’s in favor of Islam at all…

    The only shelf space that matters is the displays, though. From my experience, if it’s not on display (and oftentimes even if it is), customers can’t find jack so they come running to us. It’s like the pre-historic version of Amazon.com… they just ask us to find all their books for them, instead of looking themselves. Our info desk is always surrounded by a ring of people too lazy to actually look to the right.

    The biggest issue with the Borders Rewards card has been the Holiday Savings Account… 5% of what you spend in any Borders goes into an account that opens up November-January. But, see, they only expected like… 1,000,000 people to sign up for the thing… now there’s like 7-8 million members, and come Christmas they’re all gonna be cashing in on those accounts. It’s free money for them, essentially. So the Corporate Offices have cut back on all sales, customer service, and even employee privileges to stem the fiscal loss… One of the managers at my store was fired because they’re downsizing everywhere they can in preparation for the hit those cards are gonna make.

    They also changed it so that you have to have $10 in your account to access it… meaning you have to have spent $200 at least. So pretty much every Borders employee is going to be murdered daily for three months by people who want their $5 account… it’s gonna be such a mess.

  • Lillian Maynard

    I work at a Borders store in Cleveland Ohio. We are not told to put the Koran on the top shelf, and honestlly who really cares if it is on the top shelf, does it matter? No not really. Most people are too lazy to find the books anyways. As far as the anti-American shirt wearing employees, in our store we are not permitted to wear clothing with any kind of political statement, i find this funny that people who would be offended by such a t-shirt often are the first ones to cry out about free speech. As for the tourette employee comment, im rather disturbed by this. At my store we hire for diversity in the work place. Young, old, gay, tourette, one arm, transexual, it doesnt matter as long as they can do the job.As an Employee I really like that about borders. We are all people, we should all be given the same oppurtunities, regardless of disabilities, gender, or sexual preference. Customers dissaproval just shows society’s disgust in that which is not the “norm”. It does not make a difference as far as a “smart buisness choice” if a cashiers disability offends someone to the point where they would not shop there, well i just feel sorry for them.

  • Lillian Maynard

    I work at a Borders store in Cleveland Ohio. We are not told to put the Koran on the top shelf, and honestlly who really cares if it is on the top shelf, does it matter? No not really. Most people are too lazy to find the books anyways. As far as the anti-American shirt wearing employees, in our store we are not permitted to wear clothing with any kind of political statement, i find this funny that people who would be offended by such a t-shirt often are the first ones to cry out about free speech. As for the tourette employee comment, im rather disturbed by this. At my store we hire for diversity in the work place. Young, old, gay, tourette, one arm, transexual, it doesnt matter as long as they can do the job.As an Employee I really like that about borders. We are all people, we should all be given the same oppurtunities, regardless of disabilities, gender, or sexual preference. Customers dissaproval just shows society’s disgust in that which is not the “norm”. It does not make a difference as far as a “smart buisness choice” if a cashiers disability offends someone to the point where they would not shop there, well i just feel sorry for them.

  • M. Lane

    Lillian, you’re a complete idiot if you think the diversity-hiring practice has to do with anything more than what they’re forced to do by law and what they think looks good to potential customers. It all comes down to the money, that’s business. (Which is why people like Improbulus lie to managers about how much they will stop spending at a store whenever their delicate sensabilities are offended by someone expressing a viewpoint they don’t want to acknowledge.)

  • jak

    People really just need to relax.Sure companys have to hire for diversity by law…but how many of them actually do? Or should i say actually go out of thier way to do so.. Very few i would say. haha and obviously it doesnt look good to potential customers if they are complaining about it, sometimes hiring for diversity is not just “buisness”….its sad that we believe everything revolves around money. M.Lane…you shouldnt call someone an idiot simply from expressing their view point, theres a right way and a wrong way to discuss opnions, and you approached it in a very childish way. Just bc someones opnion is different then yours doesnt mean you should resort to name calling.