An Interesting footnote on the death of Borders

An Interesting footnote on the death of Borders Bookstore Did you know that Borders' former VP of E-Business used to run Tower Records?

Mike Cane left a comment yesterday on my post about how Borders screwed up ereaders. He wondered what happened to Kevin Ertell, who at the time was  VP of E-Business at Borders. About 3 years ago Kevin had left a comment on Mike's blog, but Mike never heard from him since.

I was curious to see what had happened to the guy, so i googled his name. After a few clicks I found his LinkedIn page. He was with Borders from 2005 to 2009, and he works elsewhere now. But before he worked for borders, he worked for Tower Records. He was at Tower Records for 20 years, and when he left in 2005 he was was the VP of Online Operations.

Tower Records used to be a chain of record stores (and DVDs, CDs, games, etc). The one detail that I want you to know about them is that they failed to adapt to the digital era. Tower Records first filed for bankruptcy in 2004 and eventually died in 2006.

Yes, Kevin Ertell helped run 2 different retail chains into the ground. I had intended to highlight the fact that this could be a coincidence, but I'm not sure it is.

BTW, I'm not saying that both bankruptcies were his fault. But I do think he was part of the reason why both companies were mismanaged. I also wonder why Borders hired him in 2005; Tower Records were already dying at that point.

As I said in the title, it's an interesting footnote.

image via Flickr

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Perry27 February, 2011

    Perhaps he could have saved both companies but no one listened.

    1. Mike Cane27 February, 2011

      Or he was listened to and here we are.

  2. Allan Lee28 February, 2011

    Your conclusion here seems unfair at best and slanderous at worst. If I’m following your logic as written, you’re indicting the guy for the bankruptcies of these two companies solely because he was an executive at both. However, your own data says he wasn’t working at either company when they ended (and Borders has filed bankruptcy but hasn’t yet gone out of business). In fact, by your data points, he left Tower Records the year before they went out of business and he left Borders two years before their bankruptcy. Nonetheless, you conclusively state “Yes, Kevin Ertell helped run 2 different retail chains into the ground.” You seem to slightly regret that statement when you follow it with “BTW, I’m not saying that both bankruptcies were his fault. But I do think he was part of the reason why both companies were mismanaged.” But you’ve provided no reason for your thinking he was part of both company’s mismanagement, other than a simple timeline correlation, which seems very unfair.

  3. Kathleen Allen28 February, 2011

    This is a warrantless and unfair hatchet job. In other words, as Allan says, “unfair at best and slanderous at worst.”

  4. savgpncl28 February, 2011

    This piece was posted twice on your blog which makes it appear that you are reveling in Border’s demise.

    1. Nate the great28 February, 2011

      I only see the one copy of the story.

  5. Tyler28 February, 2011

    I hate to defend Nate but he did not say that he ran the two companies into the ground, he did say that he helped run them into the ground. It is a fact that Borders is waaayyy behind in the e-business.

    It may not be Kevin Ertell’s fault. In fact, it looks like at the time that Ertell took over is about when Borders realized it needed an e commerce business and not sell it to Amazon. Borders was having problems back in 2005 and the hand writing was on the wall as far as 2007. When you are the person in charge and things go wrong, it is your fault!

    The e commerce part of Borders never caught on as fast as it should have. They made plenty of blunders with their handling of e readers and the Kobo (especially the first one).

    So in essence, he did help run the company into the ground. We all know that the other parts of Borders were helping him do it too 🙂


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