Thursday, August 19, 2010


Who would have thunk it? One of the largest retail bookstores going up for sale is a shock. I admit to reading stories of doom and gloom. The end of the retail bookstore chains as we know it. Ebooks and internet buying take over. You know what? It’s not all hype. It’s becoming a reality.


There are lots of reasons why I believe one of the big dogs is bailing out. Okay, the facts as reported states sinking shares, internet sales increase for their competitor, and the economy.

My personal thoughts, they are a victim of a sunk economy, changing business practices in which they failed to hop on the band wagon when the opportunity was available. For instance, they could have set up free-overnight delivery of books ordered from their store with the purchase of another book. They could have seamlessly merged their brick and mortar bookstore with the internet. They tried in some ways, but just wasn’t able to cut the mustard or the pricing competiveness that Amazon had. Let’s face it, most of my friends purchase from Amazon. Why? Because Amazon is cheaper and they love the free shipping perks, not to mention – most every book they want is available.


This could mean a bit of restructuring. Maybe an open door for small presses who’ve been trying to get a relationship with this bookseller in order to get some of that coveted shelf space. It could also mean a total shut out by the new owner of the stores who may only see value in promoting authors or publishers that are a ‘sure thing’.

At this point, I’m sure many publishers large and small are watching this event unfold closely. It could mean focusing sales completely on the internet, indie bookstores or the bookstores remaining. It also could impact the remaining large retail bookstores ways of doing business. Alas, at the end of the day, it’s all about sales strategy. Every publisher will have to stay one step ahead of the game and be willing to forge new paths in order to stay competitive. From my experience though, Indie publishers and Small presses will do just fine – they’ve been thinking outside of the box, staying one step ahead of the game to survive from their very beginning.


E.J. Wesley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
E.J. Wesley said...

Hey LM. I agree, it's a big blow to the 'brick and mortar' book sellers. B&N is the last of the group to even pretend to no be in financial chaos, and now that seems to have changed.

I think part of the problem is with the approach. The big chain stores decided some time ago that they weren't JUST going be a book store. So, we got coffee, food, video games, DVDs, music, etc. That's a fine approach if you have the resources of a Walmart, or the low overhead of an Amazon. I think they've overextended themselves beyond the breaking point.

Your thoughts about not adapting to the electronic age is spot on as well.

There are going to be consequences for everyone involved, and unfortunately that means for authors too. I've read a lot of talk on the interwebs about authors being spontaneously cut by their publishers. I think that is going to continue, along with fewer first-timers getting an opportunity. Publisher are trying to curb their financial risks by securing only the properties that are guaranteed to make money, and thereby slowdown the decline of the industry.

However, the publishers are probably just going to speed up the decline, because many of the first timers and current mid-list authors are going to turn to epublishing and most likely make more money.

Times are a changing, and I hope that new and current authors are paying very close attention. Furthermore, I hope they're willing to adapt their line of thinking regarding the 'book dream'; Amazon, iBooks, and every other electronic store front are legit markets to place your work in, regardless of what current industry experts/friends might be saying.

JUST NOTICED HOW LONG THIS RESPONSE IS! Sorry about the rant, I just had my coffee ...

beth said...

Stories like this make me so sad. I hate Amazon (well, not really but I don't buy books there very often). I love book stores.
I especially love B&N. I like to go the first Saturday of the month and browse the YA section hitting the one or two books I set out to buy and finding a couple of others that just seem to appeal to me. Then make my way to the B&N cafe where I can get my Cheesecake Factory cheesecake and a Starbucks mocha. It's my day!
I'm fortunate enough to live in a town with a big indie store. I like it too, and the fact that they don't have my cheesecake could be a health benefit. I just hope with everything I have that this industry doesn't eventually go e-book only, because there is nothing I hate more than trying to read a whole book on the comp!

Kaye said...

I wonder what the repercussions of the sale will have on the Nook e reader. I was just ready to purchase the Nook until I heard of the sale. Now, I'm just sitting and watching. One thing I don't like about B&N is all the extraneous stuff for sale- games, toys, mugs, chocolate. Maybe that is one of the reasons for their near demise.

cleemckenzie said...

The changes in technology and the failing economy has forced publishing of all kinds (newspapers, magazines and books) to adjust. The problem seems to be that nobody knows what these adjustments mean or how they will ultimately affect the industry.

One adjustment will probably be the percentage of first time authors we'll see on the shelves Right now it's 5%.

beth said...

Geez, that's scarry to Lee. It's already not a high number.

LMW said...

I agree the book world is changing! People ask me all the time if my books are availabe on ereaders. I guess if the bookstores don't change with it then they will go under. It's sad. Good luck with all your publishings! (BTW I'm a new follower from the hop)


Brooke said...

Just hoppin' by!!! Nice article. I work at BN and have been reassured that there are no major plans to close anything. Since they pay me, I'm hoping they're right!!!

~Brooke, Brooke's Box of Books