About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Borders update

According to this article on publishersweekly.com there is a bank willing to refinance Borders debt but with several strings attached, and one of those strings is for publishers to accept a note or bond for their delayed payments.

The only problem with this is, it may not be legal or kosher for the publishers to agree to this outside of having a court force it upon them, because it's then selling books to Borders on terms way different than the established discount schedule and terms of sale. Quoting from a B&N statement on the subject: "We think the playing field should be even. We expect publishers to offer same terms to all other booksellers, including Barnes & Noble and independent booksellers. We fully expect publisher’s will require Borders to pay their bills on the same basis upon which all other booksellers pay theirs. Any changes in publishers terms should be made available to all." And who can blame them. I'd sue, if I were some other bookstore, and couldn't get to turn my payments to a major publisher into a note that I could just dole out interest on for the next 8 years.

B&N also piled on by pre-announcing an announcement on Thursday regarding their holiday sales. Driven by the Nook, almost a 10% increase in same store sales, and Dec. 23, 2010 was the best date in company history. A caveat there, however, that B&N purchased the college bookstore chain so that they are now entitled to count hundreds of those stores in their sales tally which they couldn't count two years ago.

Borders also announced two resignations, neither of which has a press release on their website, and one of them particularly notable. Thomas D. Carney, the current General Counsel and one-time Secretary, has been a Borders office pretty much from the day the company went public around 1994. He's been in one role of the other through multiple bosses for a very, very long time. He is the embodiment of institutional memory at Borders. Well, he was.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Moon said...

So publishers--not the healthiest segment of the economy--and their writers, even less healthy, overall--are supposed to bail out Borders and by extension all other bookstores?

I don't think so. Or, more accurately, since I'm not making the decisions, I hope not. I want more than one giant chain (and would prefer a slew of smaller ones, frankly), but any proposal that starts off with a commitment *not* to pay the real costs of doing business...and suggests that no one else should either...is a bad, bad, very bad idea.

As for their former General Counsel--if he's been there through all the bad decisions, his institutional memory doesn't seem to have done much good. There's probably some secretary who knows as much (but will certainly be lost in the reshuffle if it occurs.)