Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Comments on LinkedIn groups on the future of bookstores

I like to share interesting stories, both ones we write about here and others we read on the Internet, with relevant LinkedIn groups. Usually, when the story is interesting, the discussion continues in these groups and provides thoughtful and interesting comments.

This was exactly the case with the stories on Nick Sherry's comment on the death of bookstores and the article on Toronto Star on how Indigo Books & Music is remaking itself in the age of the digital book. I wanted to share with you some of the comments these stories received on LinkedIn.

The first story is the one I wrote here on the comments Nick Sherry made about the death of bookstores in Australia (Is Nick Sherry right about the death of bookstores within five years?)

Just a reminder - Nick Sherry, the Australian minister for small businesses started an uproar after predicting that "in five years, other than a few speciality bookshops in capital cities, you will not see a bookstore. They will cease to exist because of what's happening with internet-based, web-based distribution." Our post focused on the counter-arguments to his comment, trying to figure out if they could indicate if Sherry has a point in his comment or not.

The discussion continued on the ABA LinkedIn group. Here are some of the comments:

"Hate to say it but yes. Once publisher don't need to print / wholesale books to Bookstores they won't. Borders? Barnes and Noble?. When was the last time you went to a record store?" - Michael Ridgway

Our small independent has already gone the way of Tower Records." - Sue Barnett

I concur with the fact that bookstores are becoming extinct; in my mind, this is the paradox that comes with technology. Will people miss the experience of physically flipping through pages of potential book purchases? Probably not, particularly since we seem to have become more and more dependent on our computers as extensions of product availability. We're not simply couch potatoes anymore, we're techno potatoe patches!" - Leamon Scott

"Well I can tell you this much, our retail and wholesale numbers are up. We do not sell ebooks. While there is definately a big change in the book business I don't believe they will become extinct. People still love the feel of a real book. " -

The second story came from the Toronto Sun. The story was on Indigo, the largest book retailer in Canada (Indigo also supported our 2010 Green Books Campaign) and how it is remaking itself in the digital age. The article itself is mainly an interview with Indigo CEO Heather Reisman.

Here are the comments on the LinkedIn group Digital Book World following this story, which I linked there. I have to admit that in this case the comments are more interesting than the article..

"If the US booksellers' margins are anything like Indigo's margins, traditional book retailers are doomed. $1 billion in income and only $11.3 million in profit -- that is just a little over a 1% profit margin -- zero room for error and no room for a market decline due to eBooks." - Kent Winward

Book retail has been living on a fragile 2% or less margin since the 80s but had to weather nothing so seismic as the ebook shift, poor economy and shrinking outlets as we are today. Five years from now it will definitely be a different landscape. What worries me is in the transition we may see be some non fiction categories really suffer to the point of extinction." - Jim Fallone

It appears Indigo is on a pair of well-financed fool's errands...

Betting the business on the Kobo reader is crazy enough - near-zero market share, and nothing compelling to recommend Kobo over the Nook, Kindle, or iPad. But aiming to become a bricks & mortar version of Amazon by selling home decor and kitchen products seems insane. " - Paul Gardner

hanks again for all the people who contribute to these interesting discussions!

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Planting trees for your books!