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Borders becomes even more liminal; small presses and micropresses affected differently?

I was just talking to a science fiction small press publisher about the effect that this news may have on their publishing model.

To sum up the article:

After a drawn out process that began at the end of last year when it missed payments to top publishers, Borders Group has given in to the inevitable and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy… Borders said it will close approximately 30% of its current store base, about 200 stores, within the next several weeks… According to Borders, the financing should enable Borders to operate the stores that remain open in a “normal course”… The announcement made this morning was foreshadowed last night when it implemented an ordering freeze and Ingram, its lifeline to the publishers, stopped shipping books. Publishers are on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars…

The most obvious problems stemming from this seem to concern mainly small press publishers who have national distribution. I was wondering how small press publishers who don’t have national distribution (and I think a number of the contributors/commentariat at this blog are involved in non-national small press publishing in some way?) think this news will affect them. Positively? Negatively? Not at all?

With just chain around, nationally distributed small press publishers may have to be more conservative with the kinds of work they put out, to make sure that it can get picked up by the remaining chain. Do micropresses anticipate that change in small presses rippling out to them?

  • Hi, I'm Rachel! I write science fiction and fantasy short stories. I've won the Nebula Award twice, and been nominated for the Hugo Award, the World Fantasy Award, and some other things. My seventy or so short stories are available around the internet as well as in print, and many of them are in my latest collection, How the World Became Quiet. I have a masters degree in fiction from the University of Iowa. I have five cats. I like my cats, but strongly suggest one stops at three. Or two. Excuse me, I have to go take care of cats.

8 thoughts on “Borders becomes even more liminal; small presses and micropresses affected differently?

  1. oh man, that’s just a weird sensation knowing this, things are really changing, wish i knew if it was for the “better” or the “worse”

  2. The times I went to borders, I never saw any “micro press” titles. And almost no small press titles. I believe for micro presses, they had some kind of offer where you could pay them 200 dollars per title to stock it (in a single individual store). I may be wrong about this, but seem to recall hearing it.

    Personally, I have never been of the mindset that big corporations help small publishers, though I know some feel differently.

    1. Some SF small publisher titles definitely do get distributed through Borders. I’ve regularly seen Aqueduct, Night Shade, Small Beer and Prime, and I don’t follow the intricacies of novel publishing very intimately.

      But I was more wondering what the effect of the chain closure might be, in rippling, on presses that don’t have national distribution through Borders & B&N.

  3. Rachel: It might of course depend on the Border’s branch. Out of the three you have named, I have only seen Night Shade.

    If I could guess though, Border’s closing will mainly effect people in rural areas, since in many places that is all there is. These folks will probably start buying more titles through the internet. For micro-presses, the bulk of the sales come through the internet, so theoretically it could help more than hurt. I would guess hundreds of millions of sales will start being added to Amazon etc.

    Maybe it will also open up possibilities for small book stores to open.

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