Friday, May 21, 2010

More on the probable decline of bookstores

An interesting article in the WSJ about the pressure ebooks are putting on brick-and-mortar bookstores. The implication of the article is that traditional publishers weren't paying attention even when the Kindle debuted, and that it took the advent of the iPad to worry them. I'm not sure I agree with that, but the basic point is that print publishers really didn't think ebooks were a threat until very recently. The article points out that even with agency pricing, bookstores don't make nearly as much on an ebook as they do on full-priced hardbacks, and as ebooks get more prevalent, revenues will plunge. (And this doesn't even address the problem that ebooks from traditional publishers aren't priced to move.)

The article also points out that the once-ubiquitous mall bookstores have all but disappeared-- Borders' Waldenbooks are down from 1200 stores to 175, and B&N's B. Dalton Booksellers have faded from 797 to a mere four. The article suggests that B&Ns are likely to survive only by selling more general merchandise, perhaps even consumer electronics, in addition to books.

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