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Comics A.M. | Borders lists closing stores, assures ‘normal’ business

Borders

Retailing | Struggling bookseller Borders Group, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, told shaken publishers it’s developing a long-term plan to “reposition itself,” even as it released a list of some 200 stores set to close by the end of April. The closings include 35 locations in California and 15 in metropolitan Chicago. On a website dedicated to the reorganization, the retailer — the second-largest book chain in the United States — assures customers that “Borders’ Business Operations Continue As Normal.”

In its bankruptcy filing, the company listed $1.29 billion in debt and $1.27 billion in assets. It owes $272 million to its 30 largest unsecured creditors, including $41.1 million to Penguin Group. Diamond Book Publishers, which stopped shipping to Borders last month, is on the hook for $3.9 million. [The New York Times]

Retailing | Meanwhile, REDgroup Retail, which owns the Australian booksellers Borders (owned independently of the U.S. chain) and Angus & Robertson, has entered into administration. Angus & Robertson is the country’s largest book chain, with more than 180 stores nationwide. [The Australian, Guardian]

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Comics A.M. | Borders files for bankruptcy, plans to close 192 stores

Borders

Retailing | Borders Group, the second-largest book chain in the United States, filed for bankruptcy protection this morning, announcing plans to close about 192 of its 639 Borders, Waldenbooks, Borders Express and Borders Outlet locations over the next several weeks. It’s unclear how many of the company’s 6,100 full-time and 11,400 part-time employees will be affected by the closings. Borders, which listed $1.29 billion in debt and $1.27 billion in assets, plans to continue to operate through the court process with the help of $505 million in financing from lenders led by G.E. Capital.

The likelihood of bankruptcy has loomed for the past several weeks as the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based bookseller pushed unsuccessfully for publishers and distributors to convert late payments into $125 million in loans. That concession was critical to Borders securing $550 million in refinancing from G.E. Capital. Publishers like Penguin Group, Hatchette, Simon & Schuster, Random House and HarperCollins are now, in Publishers Weekly‘s words, on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars. Diamond Book Distributors, which stopped shipping to Borders last month, is owed $3.9 million. [Bloomberg, The New York Times]

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Comics A.M. | Borders nears Chapter 11; Diamond’s secret shopper results

Borders

Retailing | The financially troubled Borders Group reportedly could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as soon as today or Tuesday, setting the stage to close about 200 of its 674 Borders and Waldenbooks stores and eliminate thousands of jobs. [The Wall Street Journal]

Retailing | Diamond Comic Distributors revealed that 98 percent of the more than 500 direct market stores visited by secret shoppers during the first month of day-early delivery were found to be in compliance with the program’s street-date requirements. According to Diamond, of the 10 stores discovered to be in violation of the agreement, one was reported by another retailer while the others were discovered by secret shoppers. [ICv2.com]

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Comics A.M. | Comic-Con registration tips, pledge for ‘a strong Borders’

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con | Lori Weisberg provides a reminder, and a primer, for online registration for Comic-Con International, which goes live Saturday at 9 a.m. Pacific. Registration is for daily passes and four-day memberships without Preview Night. Those with the Wednesday preview sold out on the final day of the 2010 convention (more could be released later, depending on returns and cancellations). Prices have increased slightly, from $100 to $105 for four-day memberships and from $35 to $37 for single-day passes ($20 for Sunday) — plus a $2 processing fee for each badge. Comic-Con will be held July 20-24 in San Diego. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

Retailing | Responding to reports that Borders Group may file for bankruptcy as early as next week, a spokeswoman asserts the struggling book chain intends to stay in business. “Our goal is to have a strong Borders for the long term, ” Borders spokeswoman Mary Davis said. “As such, Borders is involved in discussions with multiple parties – including lenders, vendors, landlords and other business partners – to determine the route that will provide it with the best opportunity to move forward with its business strategy.” [The Plain Dealer]

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Comics A.M. | Borders bankruptcy looms; ‘Mystery Men’ trademark issues?

Borders

Retailing | Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reports that Borders Group may file for bankruptcy protection as early as next week. Additionally the struggling book chain, the second-largest in the United States, will likely close at least 150 of its 500 remaining namesake stores. Company stock plunged in the wake of the news. A Borders spokeswoman declined comment, but referred to a Jan. 27 statement from President Mike Edwards in which he raised “the possibility of an in-court restructuring.” [Bloomberg]

Legal | Rich Johnston and retailer news and analysis site ICv2 look at potential trademark issues surrounding Marvel’s “Who Are the Mystery Men?” They note that cartoonist Bob Burden owns the trademark to the one-word “Mysterymen,” while Dark Horse and Universal Pictures control the two-word “Mystery Men” — both relating to the characters created by Burden and the 1999 movie adaptation. Dynamite Entertainment also has laid claim to “Super-Mysterymen” for its Project Superpowers series. “I have not heard from Universal yet, but I’m sure Universal will proceed in an orderly and propitious manner,” Burden said. [Bleeding Cool, ICv2.com]

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Comics A.M. | Spiegelman wins Grand Prix, Borders delays more payments

Art Spiegelman

Awards | Art Spiegelman on Sunday won the Grand Prix at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, marking only the third time an American has received the honor (the other two were Will Eisner and Robert Crumb). “Considering my poor skills, I’m looking a little like the president Obama receiving the Nobel Peace prize,” he told the festival by telephone from the United States. Spiegelman will serve as the grand marshal for next year’s event.

Other winners at the four-day festival, which drew an estimated 200,000 visitors, include David Mazzuchelli for Asterios Polyp (Grand Jury Prize), and Naoki Urasawa and the late Osamu Tezuka for Pluto (Intergenerational Award). The full list of winners can be found here. [Agence France-Presse]

Retailing | The beleaguered Borders Group announced on Sunday that it’s delaying January payments to vendors and landlords in an effort to save cash while it tries to complete a debt restructuring. This marks the second round of delays for the bookseller, which has been pressuring large publishers and distributors to agree by Feb. 1 to convert late payments into $125 million in loans. The bookstore chain announced just last week that it secured a $550 million credit line from G.E. Capital, but only if several tough conditions were met — including an unlikely agreement from publishers. [The Wall Street Journal]

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Borders secures loan commitment, raises possibility of bankruptcy

Borders

Borders Group announced on Thursday it has secured $550 million in refinancing from G.E. Capital, so long as the struggling bookseller meets certain requirements — including convincing major publishers and distributors to convert late payments into $125 million in loans.

That’s a major obstacle, as publishers already seemed poised to reject the proposal, which followed an announcement in late December that the retailer would delay payments to some publishers and distributors. The news led some, such as Diamond Book Distributors, to stop shipping to Borders, the second-largest book chain in the United States.

The company had pushed for an answer on its offer by today, when January checks are supposed to go out to publishers. But according to Publishers Weekly, publishers turned down Borders’ request for another meeting earlier this week, which would suggest that acceptance is unlikely.

Borders, however, isn’t limiting its options: For the first time in public, the bookseller raised the possibility of bankruptcy.

“We view the refinancing route as the most practical, efficient and beneficial to all parties, and we are working with our vendors in this regard,” President Mike Edwards said in a statement. “At the same time, given the current environment surrounding Borders, and in order to assure that the company can pursue its efforts to position itself to properly implement its business plan, it is prudent as well for Borders to explore alternative avenues, including the possibility of an in-court restructuring.”

Publishers Weekly and Deal Journal provide more details.

Troubled Borders Group lays off 45 at headquarters, distribution centers

Borders Group headquarters

The struggling Borders Group on Monday laid off 40 employees from its headquarters in Ann Arbor, Mich., and an additional five from distribution centers, The Detroit News reports.

Just last week, 310 employees were told they’d lose their jobs with the closing in mid-July of the bookseller’s distribution center in LaVergne, Tenn., near Nashville. In addition, the company eliminated 15 regional management positions.

The cuts come as Borders negotiates for a $500 million credit line from GE Capital to buoy the retailer for six to 12 months while it restructures its business.  The company announced on Dec. 30 that it would delay payments to some publishers and distributors, leading some — such as Diamond Book Distributors — to stop shipping to the bookstore chain, the second-largest in the United States. Those publishers have until Feb. 1 to accept or reject a proposal that would convert delayed payments into loans, which would see them take up to one-third of Borders’ reorganized debt.

The bookseller also will close nearly 200 Waldenbooks and Borders Express locations, and 17 Borders superstores, by the end of the month, moves announced before this current crunch.

Jaclyn Trop of The Detroit News has a solid look at the rise and decline of Borders that cites a lack of strong leadership and a slowness in adapting to the Internet as major reasons for the chain’s struggles.

Comics A.M. | Borders sets Feb. 1 deadline; will bande dessinée break out?

Borders

Retailing | The Borders death watch continues, with the struggling bookstore chain giving publishers until Feb. 1 to accept or reject a proposal to convert delayed payments into loans. Publishers reportedly are skeptical of the plan, which would see them take up one-third to one-quarter of the bookseller’s reorganized debt. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based retailer also has hired bankruptcy and restructuring lawyers to advise in its restructuring efforts, which center on negotiations to secure a $500 million credit line from GE Capital.

Borders, the second-largest book chain in the United States, announced in late December that it would delay payments to key publishers and distributors, leading some — such as Diamond Book Distributors — to stop shipping books. Jacket Copy reminds us that Borders Group is closing nearly 200 Waldebooks and Borders Express outlets before the end of the month. Additionally, it’s shuttering 17 Borders superstore locations nationwide. [The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal]

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Comics A.M. | Borders lays out refinancing plan; who’s buying digital comics?

Borders

Retailing | Executives from Borders Group reportedly told a group of publishers on Thursday that the struggling bookseller is close to securing refinancing from GE Capital and other lenders. However, one publisher remained unconvinced the plan could turn the company around. The meeting was the latest between the bookstore chain — the second-largest in the United States, after Barnes & Noble — and major book publishers that began late last month, when Borders announced it would delay payments to some publishers and distributors. That news led Diamond Book Distributors last week to suspend shipments to the retailer. Borders also confirmed on Thursday that it has eliminated 15 managerial positions: nine regional merchandising managers, four event-marketing managers and two district managers. [The New York Times]

Retailing | Diamond Comic Distributors announced it will again hold its annual Retailers Summit in conjunction with the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo. The event will begin on March 17 with retailing workshops, publisher focus groups and an opening-night reception, followed the next day by the keynote breakfast and platinum-sponsor presentations. [Diamond Comic Distributors]

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Comics A.M. | Borders to close Tenn. center, Muppets/Pixar titles canceled

Borders Group headquarters

Retailing | The picture keeps looking worse for Borders Group: Even as news surfaced Wednesday that Diamond Book Distributors has stopped shipping to the troubled retail chain a report circulated that Borders will close its LaVergne, Tenn., distribution center in mid-July, resulting in the elimination of 310 jobs. That follows more than 200 layoffs made at the center since 2009. [WKRN.com, via GalleyCat]

Publishing | The remaining licensed Muppets and Pixar titles from BOOM! Studios have been listed as “canceled by Previews.” In response to inquiries, the publisher pointed to the teaser for “BOOM! Kids 2.0,” the relaunch of its kids imprint announced in September. Rumors that BOOM! had lost the Muppets/Pixar licenses began swirling in late November, following Roger Langridge’s announcement that he would no longer be drawing The Muppet Show. The publisher’s relaunched kids line will include such Disney licenses as Darkwing Duck, and reprints of Mickey Mouse, Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories. [Comics Worth Reading]

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Comics A.M. | Comic sales slip 3.5%, SD official wants Comic-Con parade

The Avengers #1

Publishing | Sales of comics, graphic novels and magazines to comic stores declined slightly in 2010, slipping 3.5 percent from 2009, according to a year-end report released Thursday by Diamond Comic Distributors. John Jackson Miller’s estimate places the North American market at between $410 million and $420 million, down from the 2008 peak of $437 million.

Marvel again emerged as the top publisher, leading the market in both dollar and unit sales. May’s Avengers #1 was the top-selling periodical, followed by X-Men #1, Blackest Night #8, Siege #1 and Blackest Night #7. As expected, The Walking Dead and Scott Pilgrim dominated the graphic novel and trade paperback list, taking eight of the Top 10 spots (the remaining two went to the Kick-Ass premium hardcover and Superman: Earth One). [Diamond Comic Distributors]

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Comics A.M. | B&N complicates Borders talks, Stan Lee gets his star

Borders

Retailing | As the financially troubled Borders Group met Tuesday with publishers in hopes of converting delayed payments into interest-bearing debt, the bookseller’s larger rival Barnes & Noble expressed concerns that could complicate negotiations. “We think the playing field should be even,” B&N spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating said in a statement. “We expect publishers to offer same terms to all other booksellers, including Barnes & Noble and independent booksellers.  We fully expect publisher’s will require Borders to pay their bills on the same basis upon which all other booksellers pay theirs.  Any changes in publishers terms should be made available to all.” Meanwhile, Reuters considers what the closing of Borders’ 600 stores would mean to the book industry. [The New York Times, Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | Borders executives resign, manga leads NYPL list

Borders

Retailing | Troubles continue for Borders Group as the retailer filed notice Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Executive Vice President Thomas D. Carney and Chief Information Officer D. Scott Laverty have resigned. Just last week Borders, the country’s second-largest bookstore chain, announced it’s delaying payments to some publishers as it attempts to restructure its credit lines. [GalleyCat]

Passings | Longtime retailer Carl Tupper, who owned BSI Comics in Metairie, Louisiana, for 30 years, passed away on Dec. 29. He was 70 years old. [BSI Comics, ICv2.com]

Libraries | Four of the top five young-adult titles checked out from the New York Public Library in 2010 were manga: Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, Tite Kubo’s Bleach, Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece, and Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball Z. Jennifer Holm’s graphic novel Babymouse and Jeff Kinney’s comics-prose hybrid Diary of a Wimpy Kid were the top two children’s titles. [NYPL Wire]

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Borders halts payments to some publishers

Borders

The troubled Borders Group, the second-largest bookstore chain in the United States, announced Thursday it’s delaying payments to some publishers as it attempts to restructure its credit lines. The news sent shares tumbling 11 percent.

“As part of this potential refinancing, Borders has determined that it is necessary to restructure its vendor financing arrangements and is delaying payments to certain of its vendors,” company spokeswoman Mary Davis told Reuters. Although she declined to provide the names of the publishers, she said Borders was working with them to restructure their arrangements with the chain.

The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based bookseller reported earlier this month that an inability to secure adequate financing could result in a “liquidity shortfall” in early 2011, meaning the chain would run out of cash to conduct day-to-day business.


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