I've heard this now a few times, but does that make it true? Borders pisses me off about six different ways, but this can't be good for the industry as a whole--or can it? What are the implications if Borders goes away?
Here's what I think might happen: Regional bookstores will open. Tightly run, staffed with people who know the business, a regional set of bookstores will have the buying power to cut some deals--but never grow into a national chains like Borders. Why you don't want to grow into a national chain is the bottom line; the profit/loss margin.
Huge chains like Borders simply run on too thin of a profit margin. They can't absurb downturns in the economy. Same is true for a single-store bookstore. So there has to be a happy medium. I say regional.
Bookstores may close down, but we'll still need booksellers.
More and more I'm finding new books and authors to read online - that's where I'm finding the knowledgeable people John D points out are missing in many chain stores. Lots of bloggers do great reviews and have great sites with lots of info. If I could buy the books from those sites, that would be even better.
Look at Peter Rozovsky's Detectives Beyond Borders, for example (disclaimer; he's a friend of mine). I've discovered many more authors on that site (Brian McGilloway, Matthew Rees) than I have from newspaper reviews or even bookstore recommendations.
The problem with the big box stores (Sam's Club, CostCo, B.J.'s)and Walmart or grocery stores is that they stock a very small number of authors -- all best sellers. And yes, they get steep discounts, and yes, they make huge sales. They are a bigger threat to the quality and availability of books than anyone else.
I think Borders has been headed in this direction for years. They're online, they're not. They embrace entertainment in stores, cafes, then don't support them sufficiently. I think businesses that mess up shouldn't be mourned when the inevitable happens. Let those who "get it" (whether they be online, regional, local, or mega) take the prize! I think Amazon gets it online more than B&N, but at least going into a B&N store feels like a bookstore shopping experience still. Borders lost that years ago.
I think its going to depend on location. We have a B&N here that is small compared to say... Johnson City, NY's Barnes and Noble which is fantastic! We also have a Bordens (used to be Waldens) in a cubby whole in our local Mall. The Bordens in Williamsport, PA is completely different and as big as the B&N in Johnson City. Problem... In order to get to the "good" stores have to travel 60 miles in two different directions. Becomes cheaper to look for a book on Alibris or online at B&N.
We no longer have any book stores besides the large chains. All Mom&Pop stores are gone. We are even starting to lose our Christian ones. Its getting harder and harder to find decent books. Walmart, Target and the likes carry books but not in the variety that the book chains do.