November 13, 2011
Browsing On A Sunday: Borders Books, The Health Care Law, And The Search Market
Bloomberg Business Week has a lengthy analysis on the failure of Borders Books called The End of Borders and the Future of Books. The pull quote is “Borders seems to have been in the business of making mistakes.” The article documents many of them, from hiring Amazon to run all of Borders online business, to investing in physical media inventory at a time when media was rapidly growing online, to locating its stores in less than prime locations and signing long term leases on the stores. It appears that Borders management kept making strategic mistakes and seemed to have lost focus as demonstrated by having six CEOs in that last 12 years. It would seem that Borders going under could have been avoided if the company took measures early on. But it didn’t, and the rest is history.
The future of books, or more specifically, the future of physical bookstores is more independent local stores coming back to fill the gap left by Borders. The article points out that Amazon is not to blame for Borders’ demise as Barnes & Noble held strong, not needing to close any of its stores. In fact, there are statements to the effect that half the stores were profitable at the time of the closure. That’s business not necessarily heading to B&N or Amazon.
Another article from Bloomberg Business Week, Conservative Health-Care Split Offers Court a Path: Noah Feldman is an analysis of the possible options for the Supreme Court in considering the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The most recent decision upholding the law comes from the Court of Appeals from the District of Columbia. Three of the four Circuits that have heard arguments have now upheld the law for various reasons. Feldman, a Harvard Law professor, focuses not only on the various rationales advanced by the D.C. Circuit Judges, but also who they are. Judge Laurence Silberman is a well-respected conservative jurist. Judge Brett Kavanaugh is another conservative who has clerked for Justice Kennedy, identified as the likely swing vote in any Supreme Court decision. It’s a fascinating look at the judicial politics underneath the decision.
Finally, a bit of technology. Google increased its share of search in the United States by 0.3 percentage points, to a total of 65.6%. Yahoo lost a comparable amount, now holding 15.2%. Bing edged up 0.1 percentage points to 14.8%. Ask.com lost 0.1% and AOL stayed unchanged at 1.5% of the market. Microsoft has said it is in for the long haul on capturing search share. It better be with those numbers. More on this is in the Chicago Tribune. [MG]