Thursday, September 22, 2011

Borders Failure Good for Independent Bookstores?

An article earlier this week in Publishers Weekly asked the question - “Is the Death of Borders Really Good for Independent Bookstores?

An independent bookstore owner had this to say:

"Does this herald a renaissance of the independent bookstore?" LaFramboise says of Borders' closing. "Probably not. Put me down in the 'I hope so' category. But stop short of the 'I think so' category." 

Most independents have not seen a surge in business since Borders and Waldenbooks started closing all of their stores.

Teicher says that brick-and-mortar stores—whether they are chains or independents—have come to recognize that they have more in common than they did a decade ago, including a shared rival in the form of online bookselling. 

Online sales now account for almost half of all book sales, both physical and ebooks. Independents will have to work hard to reap the benefits of Borders closing, and even then, it may be a losing battle.

What do you think? How many bookstores will survive when the sales tip to 80% ebooks in a few years?

15 comments:

Will Burke said...

All we can really do is vote with our wallets.

Jemi Fraser said...

We haven't had an indie bookstore in our area for over a decade. I'd hate to see them all go!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I doubt many will survive, but a few will.

Sarah Pearson said...

I think it will get worse before it gets better.

Angela Felsted said...

Do you really think ebooks will take up 80% of the market in a few years? I don't know, there are a lot of people that still like paper.

But internet buying, that's another story. Who knows where Barnes and Noble will be then.

Matthew MacNish said...

I do my best to shop indie, and shop local, but it's very rare that I actually get the opportunity to do it. I'm afraid things are only going to get worse.

Kristin Rae said...

Yikes. 80% ebooks?! I mean, they're handy and all... but I'm already sitting at the computer all day, I don't want to hold a small one in my hand to read a book.

I help the indie bookstores when I can, but they're both an hour away. It's sad to think they might not make it in the long run.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I really think the shift to ebooks is happening super-quickly...faster than I would have thought.

Dorte H said...

Impossible to guess from my position: Danish reader & writer of crime fiction in English.

But one can only hope some of the British and American bookshops are smarter than the Danish ones were. For decades I have seen nothing but stationary and a dozen bestsellers on their shelves (Stephen King, Stieg Larsson and the like; books I had always read already if I wanted to read them at all). So the Danish book business lost me as a customer long before I could afford to buy any of their ridiculously expensive books.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Jemi, we only have a BAM, and I don't count that as a real bookstore.

Angela, that's what they predicted at the beginning of this year.

Kristen, it's different than reading on a computer though.

Dorte, that is really sad.

LynNerd said...

I don't have any indie bookstores in my area, and I don't see how they can survive. I think a few specialty stores with a unique angle will make it. Otherwise, they'll become a thing of the past. Crazy times that we're living in.

Karen Lange said...

I hate to see any bookstores close. Hoping some will hang in there. Don't have any in town, so this is why I sometimes end up ordering online. It's kind of a catch 22, you know?

Arlee Bird said...

I like to hope so but I don't think that traditional independent bookstores will flourish, and any upsurge they are experiencing is only a temporary transitional effect. Unless they find ways to compete with the sellers like Amazon they will be nudged out of the market eventually. However, if they innovate and provide their local customer base things the online marketers cannot provide--such as intimate sense of community and personal service--they might be able to survive and even grow. They will have to do more than just sell books and do that somehow better than Borders and other big guys were/are doing. Creative thinking may help, but still the bookstore market is going to have a shaky uncertain future.



Lee
Tossing It Out

Doralynn Kennedy said...

I'm worried about all bookstores. But I'm really keeping my fingers crossed for them. Right now, the only bookstores I'm still using are the Independents. I enjoy the shopping experience. Still, I'm buying a lot of used books for a penny at Amazon lately, and the used bookstores in my city can't compete with that. The shipping at Amazon is less that the price of gas, so it's a good bargain. I don't see how the bookstores can survive the changes, but I hope they can.

Murr Brewster said...

The last indie bookstores, if it comes to that, will be in Portland, Oregon, so I won't notice their demise.