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Borders eBook Shopping Hell

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For all my fellow former retail bookstore wage slaves


Does Borders have a chance of being sold?

It’s the talk of the publishing biz right now, but Publishers Weekly is the only place with a report on it: Is Borders actually attracting the interest of potential buyers?

Yes, says a PW report by Judith Rosen. Or at least, as she says in the report, “The chances that Borders may be sold as one business or piecemeal appears to becoming more of a possibility.”

Mind you, Rosen does not cite any specific interest at all — not only doesn’t she name any names, she doesn’t so much as hint at a specific interest or possibility — but she does say that the court has seemingly cleared the path in a way that apparently makes her optimistic, and at least resonates with the rumors MobyLives has been hearing. As she explains:

Last Friday was the deadline for the submission of bids to the company’s investment bankers and financial advisors, Jeffries & Company. Any bids would have to be approved by the Creditors Committee and the U.S. Trustee. In addition, at the hearing on May 11, Borders is asking the court’s approval to sell or transfer de minimus, or “surplus, non-core or burdensome,” assets clear and free of lien. These would be items going to a single buyer or group of buyers for million or less.

An example cited in the filing concerns property at the Northeast Distribution Center in Carlisle, Pa., which is slated to close soon. Borders says that it would cost too much to extend the lease on the center to give brokers and equipment liquidators the 75 to 90 days they would need for an onsite auction. In order to vacate in less than 30 days from closing, they want to be able to sell the equipment and other assets there themselves. They are also seeking to sell equipment and furniture in corporate headquarters.

Beyond that, according to Rosen, “So far only one objection has been raised. Verizon is concerned that Borders may try to sell equipment that it leased to them.”

Okay, so it’s a completely speculative story that doesn’t cite anything to justify its headline. It at least explains the possibility that that the chatter of the moment is feasible. What it doesn’t explain is why anyone would be crazy enough to buy a company so deeply mismanaged as Borders. (Hint: the non-executive staff.)


Borders Australia offer a wierd collection of free ebooks

Very strange assembly of free ebooks……..

Whilst checking out the very wide and interesting ebooks that Borders Australia have for sale last night, I thought I would also check out the free ebooks they have on offer to see if there was anything I could quickly download to pass a few pleasant reading hours with.

So I clicked on the Free eBooks link in the happy expectation of being offered at least one or two ebooks that I might want to read, as is the case with, for example, the Sony or Kindle ebook shops.   But what I was presented with was the most extraordinary and strange collection of ebooks (in ePub and PDF format) that you could possibly imagine.

All probably immensely interesting reading if one happens to be, for example, an Hydraulics engineer, or a Dutch speaking Academic historian.   I ploughed my way patiently through about 15 screens of the most unlikely titles before I gave up and went off to Smashwords to get something to read.

To give you an idea of the treasures that Borders Australia are offering us as free ebooks, here are a random selection of titles from their list:-

  • A Guide And Material For The Study Of Goethe’s Egmont Warren WashburnFlorer    Desktop/Mobile, ePub, PDF
  • Price List.. Conn and C. Rogers & Bros. Desktop/Mobile, ePub, PDF
  • Squibb’s Materia Medica : A Complete Alphabetical List Of The Squibb Products, Desktop/Mobile, ePub, PDF
  • Investigation Of The Properties Of Chilled Cast Iron As A Material For Permanent Magnets G. W Smith and Philip Harrington Desktop/Mobile, ePub, PDF
  • A Cree Hymn Book: For The Use Of The Christian Indians In The Missions Of The Wesleyan … Jean Ross Hunter Desktop/Mobile, ePub, PDF
  • A Magyar Nyelv FinnTSi TRekvSek EllenBen M and FlóRiáNDesktop/Mobile, ePub, PDF
  • Dienst-Reglement Fuer Die Kaiserlich-Koenigliche Infanterie AUSTRIA. Armee . InfanterieDesktop/Mobile, ePub, PDF

And  so it goes on.   This has to be the strangest and most eclectic collection of  ebooks I have come across so far.

No real way of searching this collection:

Sadly, a far as I can see, there is no efficient way of searching for a particular free ebook on their site, which given the wildly varied topics covered by this collection of ebooks, and the fact that there are apparently a vast number of them makes it almost useless.  Unless of course, one is happy to pick a random ebook on a random subject in a random language (they have ebooks in just about every language as far as I can see).   I for one am not too keen on that scatter-gun approach to choosing my reading matter.   Also, I can not imagine any earthly reason why I would want to read the price list of a mail order drug company who went out of business in 1897.

Altogether a most mind boggling collection of ebooks.   Makes me wonder what, if any, selection criteria they had when they set about putting this amazing collection together.   Frankly it has the feeling of someone being told to go to Gutenberg’s site, and to take every third ebook, regardless of topic, and add it to Border’s collection.

All very strange, but rather likable as well.

Link:  http://www.borders.com.au/ebooks/free-ebooks/


Borders CEO lashes out at publishers and the company’s hometown for its problems

Borders CEO Mike Edwards gave an interview to the company’s hometown newspaper yesterday, the Ann Arbor News, in which he reveals that the company that has yet to present a reorganization plan to the court has a new scheme for pulling out of bankruptcy: attacking publishers.

Edwards essentially tells reporter Nathan Bomey that Borders is in the position it’s in because the publishers it owes tens of millions of dollars to won’t assume even greater debt — i.e., won’t go back to previous terms and start shipping them books without cash upfront. This, despite the fact that the company’s own ownership famously refused to put more money into it themselves.

Publishers’ response to Borders’ predicament has been “disappointing,” says Edwards (in response to a whoppingly one-sided — or perhaps just blazingly ignorant — question, “Are you suprised the publishers haven’t been as cooperative as you would have hoped?”). “If all the pieces have to come together, the terms commitment then drives the financial sponsorship. If so, then we have a business model that we can create a plan of reorganization around, get approval from the courts and emerge.”In other words, because the publishers won’t do what we want them to, no one will help, so none of this is Borders’ fault.

Indeed, Bomey says Edwards claimed “the company would’ve closed 110 stores, instead of nearly 230, if publishers had agreed to concessions in January.”

But not to worry. Edwards says he’s about to present publishers with a new plan that is a “shared risk scenario” — as if Borders had anything further to risk, and publishers are being unfair if they don’t risk the loss of even more money — that is, by the way, a “‘Hail Mary’ pass.”

How enticing.

Of course, it’s not just the publishers screwing Borders. The town where it was established and headquarter for decades, and has announced it is leaving after laying off hundreds of staffers, hasn’t been any help either. “I wouldn’t say there’s been huge outreach from the community to save Borders here,” says Edwards. “I’ve done business in a lot of cities and I have not experienced this, which is a less than positive approach with a company that’s in trouble.”


DOJ charges Borders with “vague and lumped” records — and wicked expensive lawyers — in bankrupcty case

The Justice Department has complained to the judge in the Borders bankruptcy case that the bookseller “hasn’t shown that it can pay the costs of its bankruptcy case and should be denied requests to pay lawyers and other professionals,” according to a Bloomberg News wire story.

U.S. Trustee Tracy Hope Davis, of the Justice Departments bankruptcy watchdog office, “objected to monthly statements of compensation and expense reimbursements for 11 professionals working on the case,” says the report. She noted for example that Borders’ legal team at Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP had requested payment of .27 million for the period extending from Feb. 16 to March 31, but hadn’t filed an operating report for that time.

The drill-down on the legal team’s application for that .27 million doesn’t make them look any better, either:

Kasowitz’s application contains “both vague and lumped time records,” the trustee said, questioning a request to reimburse 9 for cab and limousine services and ,369 for meals. The firm also seeks fees for an “excessive” number of attorneys at 76 hours of court hearings, according to the trustee. Seven Kasowitz attorneys attended Borders’s first-day hearing and four or five were at others, the trustee said.

An attorney for Kasowitz, Andrew Glenn, responded that Borders would be making a payment to the Trustee’s Office immediately.


Judge okays huge bonuses to bankrupt Borders execs

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn approved a modified version of the plan for executive bonuses sought by, er, executives at the Borders Group on Friday, after the plan was adjusted in response to objections from the creditors panel and the U.S. Trustee’s office of the Justice Department. The Trustee had objected to giving approval to the plan as Borders had yet to so much as present a plan for reorganization. Publishers on the creditors committee felt money should go to repaying creditors, not bonuses to executives. Other observers simply wondered why a team that managed an esteemed company into bankruptcy should get any bonuses at all, let alone bonuses that could more than double their already huge salaries.

But the judge was persuaded, and, according to a Bloomberg News report by Tiffany Kary, the scaled-back deal holds open the possibility of paying a maximum of about million, as opposed to the originally requested .2 million, paid out to Borders execs at rates of between 40 – 125% of their base salary. As Kary details, “The low range of bonuses will be paid if Borders negotiates at least million in annual rent reductions on its store leases, and senior management will get 125 percent of their base salary if they recover more than million for unsecured creditors.”

Judge Glenn says the revised plan ”

The revised plan is “is in the best interests of the debtors, their estates, and creditors.”

But a report by Nathan Bomey on Borders hometown news website, AnnArbor.com, notes the new deal comes with a lot of conditions:

… bonuses are tied to the company’s ability to successfully emerge from Chapter 11 or find a buyer that would continue operating the company.

For the top executives, “no payments will be made … for any liquidation or any going out of business sales at the majority of the debtors’ stores, or any plan confirmation by cram down or otherwise, or approval of a sale, over the objection of the” unsecured creditors’ committee, according to a court document.

Well, who knew that “cram down” was a legal term? It certainly does seem to describe what happened here.




Borders needs more money or it’s going to really go bankrupt

Although the Borders Group has yet to present a plan for staying in business to its bankruptcy judge — it’s already been given a delay — the plan the company presented to GE Capital that got them half a billion dollars to finance their bankruptcy reorganization appears to have been a bad plan. Or at least, according to a Bloomberg News wire story, which last night reported the company “is seeking at least million in additional financing as sales trail expectations and publishers demand cash in advance ….”

Sourced to “two people who have seen the chain’s plans to reorganize,” the story says Borders needs the money to “emerge from its in-court restructuring.” Otherwise, “The retailer may risk liquidation without further investment, easier terms from vendors or a buyer.”

Meanwhile, other anonymous insiders say that “Some publishers are spurning the reorganization the chain proposed to them privately … At least one deems the revenue projections unrealistic because Borders no longer has enough stores to generate those sales ….”


Kobo gets more cash, though not from Borders

The e-bookseller Kobo added million in new funding last month in addition to million from existing investors, according to this Paid Content report, which comments that the amounts are “pretty huge”:

All the news is intended to show that Kobo, which has been closely aligned with Borders, is not dependent on the bankrupt book chain and that it can move forward on its own. Still, given the competition from Amazon‘s Kindle, not to mention the Sony eReader and Barnes & Noble‘s Nook line, Kobo has enormous challenges in capturing greater market share.

In March Paid Content reported that Borders “isn’t listed as a participant” in the current round of founding, though the company is still partially owned by the bankrupt book chain. It was founded in 2009 as a spin off of Canada’s Indigo Books & Music.


Judge to Borders: Rethink bankruptcy bonus plan

Sing in doorway of a closed Borders

At a hearing in New York yesterday, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge sternly instructed Borders to rethink its bonus plan for leading company executives, says a Bloomberg News wire story. However, Borders lawyer Bruce Buechler persisted in arguing for the bonuses, telling the judge that since filing its second motion requesting the bonuses just Wednesday, the company had revised the plan that very day so that “the five top executives, including Chief Executive Officer Mike Edwards and Chief Financial Officer Scott Henry, would be paid based on how much they recover for creditors under a sale or restructuring by Aug. 15.” Buechler told the judge, “we need management not just to be there, but to be cheerleaders or affirmative spokespeople for the company.”

Judge Martin Glenn responded that, “If this business goes down the toilet bowl, there are a lot of full or part-time employees who face the prospect of going out of work,” before instructing the company’s attorneys to meet immediately with the U.S. Trustee in the hall outside the courtroom and negotiate a deal. The U.S. Trustee — the Justice Department‘s “bankruptcy watchdog” — had earlier voiced strong opposition to the bonus plan.

As per an earlier MobyLives report, the bonus plan would have given CEO Edwards, who has a salary of 0,000, a bonus of as much as .7 million. The plan called for other top executives to receive as much as 90% -150% of their base pay.


Borders insists it wants those damn bonuses!

Despite the fact that the Department of Justice has opposed it, and publishers (aka “creditors”) have cited it as a major reason they don’t think the company is worth working with (see the previous MobyLives report), the executive team for Borders has filed a motion with its bankruptcy court judge insisting that it really, really needs that .3 million in executive bonuses it wants to give its, er, executive team, before it turns to paying off the tens of millions of dollars it owes to its creditors.

In a story broken by Publishers Weekly yesterday, Jim Milliot reports that Borders reps told the judge that “quick action is needed because if retailers are to survive a Chapter 11, they must move quickly to emerge from the process.” They can’t do it without their current management team, said the Borders rep, whom “it would be impossible to replace.” (A Detroit News story says at least two unnamed v.p.’s have left the company this month, presumably never to be replaced.)

The filing, by the way, in its explanation of the bonuses, made some interesting revelations, such as the fact that current irreplaceable CEO Mike Edwards makes a base salary of 0,000, CFO Scott Henry 0,000, and CMO Michele Cloutier 0,000. All would stand to make huge bonuses under the proposal.

Okay, so executives of a bankrupt company who are nonetheless making huge salaries asking for a bonus isn’t as stupid, say, as barking at a police dog. But it does make you wonder how intelligent their recovery plan could possible be.

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