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Morningstar analyst Peter Wahlstrom said consumers who so-call “mooch” will likely adapt. “Individuals that are pure physical book readers will find another outlet, be it independent bookstores or the Targets or the Costcos,” he said.

There are indeed many other places to go to find out about books. Still, some consumers who love browsing Borders bookshelves say it will be hard for them to adjust if the chain closes.

“That whole thing about stumbling across a book, or stumbling across a stranger who recommends a book __ the serendipitous aspect of your literary journey in life _ is evaporating as these stores evaporate,” said Rachel Simon, author of the New York Times best seller “The Story of Beautiful Girl,” who says she visits her local Borders several times a week.

Started in 1971, Borders once operated 1,249 Borders and Waldenbooks book stores at its peak in 2003. But it failed to adapt quickly to the changing industry and lost book, music and video sales to the Internet and other competition. It filed for bankruptcy protection in February and has since shuttered stores and laid off thousands of employees.

Borders’ attempt to stay in business unraveled quickly last week, after a $215 million “white knight” bid by private-equity firm Najafi Cos. dissolved under objections from creditors and lenders who argued the chain would be worth more if it liquidated immediately. On Thursday, Borders is expected to ask the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York at a scheduled hearing to allow it to sell off all of its assets. If the judge approves the move, liquidation sales could start as soon as Friday; the company could go out of business by the end of September.