In 1971, when Borders first opened a used-book store on the University of Michigan campus, I was a freshman English-major-to-be. Naturally, I couldn't help but head into the cozy, funky store, which eventually grew into a company with more than 1,200 bookstores worldwide, second in the U.S. only to Barnes & Noble. But poor management, a misreading of the online market and a rocky economy plagued the bookseller. On July 18, Borders announced it would close its remaining 399 stores and lay off nearly 11,000 employees. The embattled publishing industry was grim about the prospect of digital books' filling in the...

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