AUDIE CORNISH, Host:
Borders, the books and music retailer, plans to close the last of its stores today. The Michigan company filed for bankruptcy in February after a disappointing holiday season and years of financial difficulties. Through the spring and summer, executives tried to find a way to save Borders, but in July, they announced nearly 400 stores would be permanently closed. NPR's Jeff Brady visited a Borders in suburban Philadelphia.
JEFF BRADY: Outside the Springfield, Pennsylvania Borders there's a long, yellow going out of business banner hung above the Borders sign. Under that, big posters announcing everything is 90-percent off. Employee Sneha Abraham will be out of a job soon.
SNEHA ABRAHAM: I only got the job because they were going out of business, actually, 'cause they needed extra people to push stuff out.
BRADY: Abraham says the last few days have been busy, but traffic into the store slowed a bit as the book selection thinned out.
ABRAHAM: All the fixtures are for sale. A lot of the bookcases have sold already and people are coming and taking those away.
BRADY: Nearby, Tiffany Howard is loading the back of her SUV.
TIFFANY HOWARD: And I found a nice bookshelf for my classroom. I'm actually going to use it for a puzzle holder to separate the puzzles in my classroom.
BRADY: Oh, so it's got, looks like 20 different little compartments.
HOWARD: Yes, and when I don't need it for a puzzle shelf, I'm going to use it for the kids' mailboxes.
BRADY: At ten dollars, she says it was a bargain. Michael Klambara left with seven books. The total bill: fifteen dollars. He echoes market analysts who say Borders suffered from a combination of problems, including poor management, the economy and a business that's changing.
MICHAEL KLAMBARA: I guess with the e-books and everything coming into prominence, it was bound to happen. It was definitely bound to happen, unfortunately, but I still prefer holding a book but the e-books seem to be taking everything over.
BRADY: For some customers leaving this Borders, the store closing is a loss. Martha Penny was lugging a bookcase across the parking lot.
MARTHA PENNY: I'm sad. Borders is my friend. It's been my friend for as long as it's been around. That's all. It's just sad.
BRADY: Already inside her car, Patrice Kelly has a bag with three books inside that she paid less than four dollars for.
PATRICE KELLY: Sad day.
KELLY: I think so.
KELLY: Bookstores are closing.
BRADY: So, where will you go now?
KELLY: Barnes and Noble, maybe, or Amazon.
BRADY: As the last Borders closes, rival Barnes and Noble is in better financial condition. Still, its stock price sits at about a third of what it was four years ago. Amazon, on the other hand, appears to have the confidence of investors. Its stock was trading for about $35 at the end of 2008. On Friday, it traded for nearly seven times that - $240 a share. Jeff Brady, NPR News, Philadelphia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.