Could Borders Rise From the Grave?

The Borders bankruptcy saga is winding to a close, and it’s about to go into its final weeks.

One of the last parts of Borders was sold off earlier this week: the IP.  The liquidator specialists Hilco Streambank supervised the sale of the Borders name, URL, as well as other brand names that Borders own (B. Daltons,Waldenbooks, etc). The total raised was around $15 million. There’s no word yet on who bought the Borders name, just that Barnes & Noble were one of the bidders. Update: And that B&N bought most of the IP.

We won’t find out who bought what until Tuesday, and that raises an interesting question. What if someone bought the Borders website and name just to bring it back from the grave? It’s certainly possible. That’s not such a stretch because it’s happened before.

You might recall the death of Circuit City a few years back, or the collapse of CompUSA before that. Actually, you might have missed the deaths because neither gadget retailer appears to be dead. What happened was that someone bought the IP and started new companies under the old name. It made perfect sense, for obvious reasons.

And it would make even more sense for someone to buy Borders , B.Daltons, or Waldenbooks just to revive the brand with a new bookstore.

To be honest, I expect that we’ll find out on Tuesday that Barnes & Noble planned for this and bought the the trade names just t make sure no one did. They don’t need a new rival squatting on the name of the old.

On the other hand, it’s certianly pssible that B&N didn’t want to go high enough to outbid the other buyers. There were nine other bidders, including Berjaya Books, which operated Borders stores in Malaysia, and 8 other unidentified companies. Hilco reported that the group included major publishing companies and web-based retailers.

Let’s see what is announced Tuesday.

image by Nivaldo Arruda

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. fjtorres16 September, 2011

    TigerDirect bought the CircuitCity and CompUSA names to use them as alternate portals to the onlne sales operation. They also bought and still operate two CompUSA stores: Miami and San Juan. The former because ts their hometown, the latter because it has always been absurdly profitable.

    As for Borders, I would think Kobo or its parent, Indigo, would’ve put in a bid, though not necessarily a terribly big one.

    BTW, word is the landlord of the San Juan Borders bid for and won the store lock, stock, and staff. (Same reason as with CompUSA.) They might have also bid for the name.

    1. Nate Hoffelder16 September, 2011

      So who do you think would buy Borders? I think it would be fairly easy to build a storefront that sells stuff from Amazon and takes an affiliate’s commission.

      1. fjtorres16 September, 2011

        Who would buy the name? Or who *should*?
        Dunno. I’m not sure how high the bidding might go.
        (Or how cheaply the names might go. The Borders name has some taint but the other two have some nostalgia value, especially B.Dalton.)

        I do know two who *could*:
        Amazon and Walmart.
        Walmart could site them as one of their in-store “affiliates”.

        Amazon? They’re OOB thinkers who might decide to zag while everybody else zigs and set up a Payless/Gamestop-style chain of micro-storefronts/showrooms.
        (As in, one in every strip mall in the land.)
        Might be cheaper than the delivery lockers concept as the micro-storefronts might be self-funding if done right.

        I do think tuesday’s going to be interesting.

        1. Nate Hoffelder17 September, 2011

          Nah, Amazon would be better off putting their own name on the store front. It has a better reputation, I think. And if you did put up a sign saying Borders some people will walk in expecting a real bookstore.

          1. fjtorres17 September, 2011

            I was thinking of the other names; Waldenbooks or Brentannos. Especially the latter.
            Mostly because I think pbook retailing is going to end up a boutique business. You really need a name without the warehouse association for an upscale business…
            Some folks think there is still a long-term future in “real bookstore”pbook retailing. I don’t.
            I see this as a sign of things to come:

  2. willem16 September, 2011

    Your speculation that B&N might want to make sure this zombie never rises again seems on the ball:

    1. Nate Hoffelder16 September, 2011

      Thanks! I hadn’t seen that one yet.

    2. fjtorres16 September, 2011

      $13.9 million. Names, customer lists, etc.
      Must’ve be spirited if it went 50 rounds…
      I wonder which “internet only” retailers were bidding.

  3. Peter16 September, 2011

    This is tangential, but Half price books seems to be stepping up quite a bit to fill the gap left by Borders now.

    I had a friend who managed a Borders- after the closure she campaigned to bring HPB to her town, then just went ahead and opened a new independent bookshop.

    It’s already open- I was pretty surprised by how fast that all happened.

    1. Tyler16 September, 2011

      What’s HPB?

      1. fjtorres17 September, 2011

        A chain that sells both new and used books in their mid-sized storefronts. They buy used books for store credit.

        1. Tyler17 September, 2011

          Oh, I have heard of Half Priced Books. I just don’t think that there are any around here. I just couldn’t figure out what HPB stood for. Thanks.


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