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Books: endangered species?Posted Monday, August 1, 2011, at 10:56 AM
The past two years have not been kind for book retailers.
In 2010, Barnes and Noble discontinued its remaining 50 B. Dalton stores, which had been part of the company since 1986, and bookselling since 1966. At its peak, 798 stores were operated.
There's nothing sadder than hanging a bunch of store closing signs and watching a once well-arranged store become messy as customers pick through everything to find a good deal. Then comes the sudden emptiness, when the nearly million dollar inventory is gone, and all that is left is a hefty stack of "Going Rogue" and a few obscure bargain books.
Unfortunately, another bookseller is suffering a similar fate, and will be going through the same, sad process.
After a failed bankruptcy bail-out, Borders will be closing all of its 399 stores by September, equaling a loss of 10,700 jobs.
Simply put, it was a case of bad business planning, especially for Borders.
Border's downfall came because they could not keep up with competition. Their pitiful little e-reader, the Kobo, was no match for the Kindle or Nook, and slumping sales had been a woe for years prior.
The outlook for Barnes and Noble is not completely rosy. While they may have an advantage as the only mega brick and mortar book retailer in the U.S., Amazon is lurking in the shadows, waiting for a David and Goliath-esque price war battle.
So, the ultimate question, will the e-reader replace the book? Will the brick and mortar bookstores disappear, only becoming impersonal online shopping experiences?
While many book lovers have embraced reading books on their computer, smart phone or e-reader, the love for printed physical book remains, even for the younger, tech-savvy generation.
Part of the experience is going into the store to purchase the book, or rent, if you frequent the library. The art of the hunt is quintessential for readers, whether it means discovering new book or one that has been around for ages.
Not to mention, those who have e-readers still like to purchase physical copies of books, and frequent libraries, me being one of these people.
Visiting the library was always a highlight of my childhood. I normally visited the one that was 15 minutes away from home, where I was frequently scolded by librarians for checking out too many books.
I have been told many times that there is nothing like holding a book in your hands while you read it. While consumers may love their e-readers, I think they love their physical copies of books even more, and the coveted experience of an author booksigning is difficult to do for e-books.
Change in this case can be bittersweet. Shopping experiences may change (fingers crossed that the brick and mortar stores are still around in 20 years), and reading habits may change, but the book is here to stay.
* Ashley Miller is a member of the Pilot-Tribune news staff. Reach her at email@example.com.