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The nation's second-largest book seller by store count waved the white flag in 2011, 40 years after its first store opened in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Borders was late to embrace the online shift and failed in its diversification efforts into toys and games.

In 2000, the retailer hired Merrill Lynch to help explore strategic options from recapitalization to leveraged buyouts or mergers, ultimately striking a deal with Amazon.com—the company that largely contributed to the store's demise. Through the deal, Amazon managed the online sales for Borders.

Despite activist investor Bill Ackman's attempts at a merger with also-faltering rival Barnes & Noble, the book retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February 2011 and eventually closed all 640 stores.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images