Written by
Sunny Frazier
March 2011
Written by
Sunny Frazier
March 2011
Dear Borders,
I recently heard the bad news of your bankruptcy. My heartfelt sympathies go out to you and yours. In these tough economic times it's sad to see 20,000 people forced out of work. At first, I worried that the cause of your demise was the lack of readers in this country. As an author and acquisitions editor for a small press, this would also be dire news for me and my profession as well. But, oddly enough, my growth has not been affected by the economic downturn. In fact, I have to admit that business on my end is expanding.  Not that you would know—you never allowed my books or those of indie presses to be sold in your stores. You threw your lot in with Big Publishing, the ones with money behind their marketing and cardboard display racks filling your aisles. This guaranteed sales, well-known authors, and the allowed the publishing industry to dictate what the people want to read. You were probably stunned when Big Publishing rewarded your fidelity by turning their backs when you asked for help on getting out of $500 million debt. Who's your daddy now?    We in small publishing pressed our noses to your windows, never invited to sell or do signings at your stores. I know, I know, it was a “corporate” thing. But, you also drove out independent bookstores which did offer local authors a venue to display our wares.  It's hard enough for beginning authors to break into the book business, unless their name  happens to be Snookie. Without your support, we had to work harder and invest our own money into promotion. We struggled while you breezed along, assuming buyers would always be driven to your stores, enticed by coffee, music and your choice of reading material. You only made $470.9 million the third quarter of last year. I bleed for you.   I read that you somehow overlooked the coming of the electronic age. Barnes & Noble certainly stayed on top of things, saw the potential of Kindle and came up with the Nook. Now readers can get the books we want instantly and at a cost you can't match. Plus, we don't have books overflowing our shelves at home and we can make them big print in case you didn't stock that option. I want to miss you, I really do, but the closest Borders for me is 40 miles away and often doesn't have the titles I seek. With gas prices and all, it's simply easier to order books on Amazon. Cheaper too. Even better, my local library has bestsellers and, although I might have to wait, I no longer shell out over $25 for a quick read.  On top of that, I often felt alienated by your young, hip sales staff. I'm sure it was a bright idea on corporate's part to include videos and CD's  to attract younger customers with time to spend  listening to music on earphones all day. I was dismissed by one bored salesman until I asked, “Do you have American Idiot?” Yes, even senior citizens sometimes listen to Green Day. And we have credit cards. Don't judge. So, Borders, it's been fun and all, but it's time to move on. 
Sincerely, Sunny Frazier

Let's be friends

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  • Sunny Frazier

    You said it, Zetta! As acquisitions editor for Oak Tree Press, I can only see the gap narrowing and smaller publishers getting a fair chance to sell their titles.

  • Zetta Brown

    Hey Sunny!

    I like your letter and I feel the same way. I wrote a blog post Borders Should Just Go Bust not long ago because the method of how bookstores stock their shelves is not economically viable, and in the end every one gets hurt, from the publisher to the customer. 

    ON the positive side, maybe people will start to pay attention to indie bookstores again (if they can find them), go to libraries (if they are still open), or simply just order online. Who knows? They may find a new author to try rather than being told what to read by the big dawgs.