« When to jump through hoops | Main | One is all you need »

02/21/2011

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I couldn't agree more! And it is scary. As someone who grew up working at an independent bookstore, I saw that model collapse first, and now the big box boys are out, as well.

It's a huge opportunity, though, for those who are willing to take it.

We're giving it a shot over at ebookling.com - would love to hear your feedback on what we're up to if you get the chance to take a look :)

The reason book stores are failing is they have failed to realize they're not about books. Odd, I know. They're about more than books, they're about ideas and communities. One of the busiest bookstores I know is located next door to a coffee house. People buy their books in the tiny bookstore then go next door to lounge on the couches and to read, interact and socialize. Both stores get that books are about people who treasure IDEAS, and the books themselves, as Seth says, are the souvenirs. Why not a store that capitalizes on being a reading room - comfy chairs, lunch, part tech store, bookstore. I stopped going to Barnes & Noble when they took the chairs and couches out. The idea I could sit and read, thumb through a stack of books at my leisure and then purchase the ones I wanted made it about the experience, being with friends who were doing the same, talking over coffee and danish. Don't look at the book, look at the experience(s) it links us to and provide that.

Is it because we associate books with print? I think coffee shops will become virtual bookstores. You can buy coffee and read book on some tablet or touchpad type of device while you are in the shop. If you want you can even buy some of them. Or you can come back to continue to read.

It's simple.

The economy is not great, but Borders and Barnes and Noble want me to spend significantly more on products at their stores than through Amazon.

I can't, and I won't.

When transportation changed from a cart and buggy to trains and automobiles, there were winners and looses. People still move from place to place, but in different ways. Some people do still go around on cart and buggy - on tourism sites or for romantic getaways. Perhaps the the bookstore will turn into a reminiscent thing of the past, with a new digital version replacing it for the everyday experience.

Becky is right: it's all about community, about connecting, about people who treasure ideas...not just about the books themselves.

I never entered a Borders, primarily because there was never one anywhere near Melbourne, FL, that I knew about. Our town had several smaller bookstores, including several used bookstores, that are no longer in business. They didn't have the large stock, but they were personable, and always glad to order what you didn't have.

Then came the mall, with Waldenbooks and B. Dalton Bookseller. Suddenly you could get that bit of "instant gratification" that the smaller independents couldn't give you. You could also get textbooks for the colleges in town, often at a reduced rate than from the in-college bookstores.

Then came the stand-alone Books-A-Million. Even bigger, even better stock, and the employees cared about what was going on. This was the first bookstore with comfy chairs & couches. They eventually added a coffee shop in the place, bringing the "experience" that Becky & others have mentioned.

Finally, Barnes & Noble built a big honkin' place, with coffee bar, chairs, and what-not. They had bought out B. Dalton and quickly eradicated the discount club, which left a foul taste in my mouth for them. Still, when BAM closed, and Waldenbooks shut down their mall store, what was left?

Amazon, that's what.

OK, a brick & mortar place can compete with Amazon IF they are very careful. Instant gratification goes a long way with many. Atmosphere makes a big difference. Even selling at full retail can work as long as a person factors in shipping & handling from Amazon (or the $80/month Prime deal) vs. local sales tax.

The problem I see with B&N here is the attitude. The employees act as if buying books there is a privilege. I don't recall the last cheery employee I saw in there. (OK, maybe at the coffee thing, but I don't do that gunk, so I don't know.) They've mentioned their discount card, but they don't even offer it if I say, "no, I don't have it."

Add to that the e-readers such as the Kindle and even B&N's Nook, not to mention compatible software for laptops, smartphones, and the like, and it's hard for a brick & mortar place to compete. They have to maintain inventory, pay rent for the building, keep everything in shape … all stuff that Amazon doesn't need to deal with.

I've never cared much for B&N, so I honestly won't mourn their demise. Except when I want a particular book right now and the local Christian bookstores (since that's the majority of books I get) don't have copies in stock.

If we wake up tomorrow with not a trace of the feel and look of the books we have today, I will be devastated. I'm not so much of a bookworm, where I can recite lines from a chapter, but I like books enough to feel a certain sense of calmness and a newfound of clarity whenever I finished a book. And part of the thrill of reading for me, is to see where my bookmark is, and closing it down when I'm finished. If digital overpowers the physicality of books, it would be such a shame.

I couldn't agree more! And it is scary.


The reason book stores are failing is they have failed

The comments to this entry are closed.

Don't miss a thing! Free updates by email and RSS

  • Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

About SAMBA