Borders, according to several reports, is in early discussions with an unidentified company to sell 225 of its stores after failing to find a single bidder to buy the whole company. The chain had originally set May 6 as a soft deadline to make a deal to sell the business.
Rival Barnes & Noble, according to The Wall Street Journal, made an offer to acquire 10 stores along with Borders' website and its customer list. Many seem to believe that access to the over 40 million individuals enrolled in the Borders Reward Loyalty program is the key motivator in any pursuit of the bookstore chain.
A piece on Benzinga.com speculates that Amazon.com may be the unidentified party that is looking at a partial acquisition of Borders.
The desire to acquire Borders' customer list is easy to grasp, but the piece, written by Benjamin Lee, suggests that Amazon may be interested in acquiring store locations in anticipation of the day when it has to collect sales taxes in most states.
"If (and when) Amazon loses this tax battle, having physical stores would allow the company to have a greater presence in cities nationwide -- something its customers have been clamoring for. If prices are comparable, consumers statistically prefer to purchase items at physical locations, as they can see and test products in person. The ability to return and exchange items easily is another added advantage," wrote Mr. Lee.
Reports suggest that publishers are willing to work with Borders in the hope that the chain can be saved. The loss of distribution would severely hurt the publishing business, with many executives believing that physical stores are still the best method for encouraging incremental purchases.
For Borders, it is still business as usual until some resolution takes place.
"We are focused on moving forward with the execution of our business plan," wrote Mary Davis, a spokesperson for Borders, in an email to Bloomberg News. "We are continuing to evaluate interest in the company as expressed through the ongoing Chapter 11 process."
How likely is it that Amazon.com would make an offer to buy stores operated by Borders?