The going-out-of-business sale begins today at many Borders stores throughout the country. The nation's second-largest bookseller is beginning its liquidation process to close most of its 399 stores. The majority of the company's 10,700 employees will lose jobs as a result.

Merchandise at Borders stores will be reduced by as much as 40 percent as the clearance sale begins Friday. The company's plan to liquidate was approved in U.S. Bankruptcy Court late Thursday, spelling the end for the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Borders chain.

In Rockford, Illinois, several people waited in line as a Borders store opened to get first pick of discounted merchandise. Sixteen people waited in a light rain for doors to open at 9 a.m. Signs adorned the store at opening reading "everything up to 40 percent off" and "store closing."

Borders says its "Borders Bucks" rewards card points will only be valid until July 31. Also, gift cards will be accepted until stores are closed.

At one time, Borders operated more than 1,200 bookstores in America. But the company began closing stores after that peak in 2003. When Borders filed for bankruptcy protection in February, the company has 642 stores. More than 250 were closed in recent months before the liquidation ruling.

The closing of more than 350 Borders stores will leave Barnes and Noble as the only national bookstore chain with more than 300 stores. Barnes and Noble has 705 retail bookstores in the country, and more than 600 college and university textbook stores.

.A last-minute offer from Books-A-Million Thursday may save 1,000 to 1,500 jobs and keep 30 to 35 stores open. The deal has not been finalized yet though and the liquidaton sale began Friday at all of the company's 399 stores. Books-A-Million and Borders are working fast to secure the deal so stock will still remain at the 30 to 35 stores Books-A-Million is trying to buy.

Calling it a "bittersweet day," U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn announced today before a packed courtroom Thursday during proceedings involving Borders' liquidation some stores may be spared through a sale to Books-a-Million.

Glenn said a last-minute offer from Books-a-Million may save 30 Borders stores and as many as 1,000 to 1,500 jobs.

Borders was still planning to proceed Thursday in seeking court approval to liquidate, closing most of its 399 stores.

"This is a bittersweet day," said Judge Glenn. "There are a lot of sad people around the country, a lot of sad people in the corporate headquarters. But there has been a late-breaking development."

Based in Birmingham, Alabama with more than 200 stores in the Southeast, Books-a-Million has made an offer to buy 21 Borders superstores and nine smaller stores. Seven of the 30 stores in located in Pennsylvania. The superstore locations include Atlantic City, N.J., and Waterford, Conn.

Under the deal, Books-A-Million would get inventory and merchandise at the stores and negotiate new leases with the landlords.

A group of liquidators including Hilco Merchant Resources and Gordon Brothers Retail Partners will sell off Borders' merchandise and furnishing, beginning as early as Friday.

Borders will keep its brand name and leases and sell off those assets through an auction process.

Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Borders filed for bankruptcy in February. The nation's second-largest bookstore tried to find a buyer to keep all or some of its 399 stores open but a deal never materialized, and the company decided to liquidate. Borders began negotiating with Books-a-Million last week, in the effort to keep some stores open, but a deal wasn't reached.