Friday, December 30, 2011

What Does The Future Hold For Local Booksellers?

The new year is nearly upon us and now is the season for prognostication. Many of us are looking to our personal futures and making our resolutions. So in this coming year are local booksellers going to survive economically? In this past year the e-book which has been floating around out there for the past several years really hit its stride. In addition, internet bookselling has continued to grow strong. Can your local bookstore find its niche in this climate of increasing competition? What strategies are they using to survive? Just recently, Borders Books folded. If the economics of scale is no defense what are they going to do?

Old Scrolls Book Shop (link below)
Many who have survived have moved beyond simply just selling books. There has always been a 'bookstore community' of regular visitors, but many retailers have pushed that social atmosphere to a new level. The one advantage that bookstores will always have over the internet / e-books is that they are a social setting. You can meet authors for signings. You can meet friends for coffee. Get together with a book club> There are advantages in that brick and mortar which can be exploited.

The bar scene model is the perfect example. (I heard an interview on NPR, I believe, explaining this fact. I wish I had a link to the interview. The owner went onto to explain how they are emulating the bar model.) Very few people actually go to a bar just to drink. It is the social experience which they are seeking. Bookstores have been pushing that social setting as a counterweight to the people who want the convenience of just ordering or downloading a book. Granted alcohol may have more of a draw, but it is a strategy which is helping. A bookstore has always been a great place to meet people. Now that side-benefit may be its saving factor. Barnes & Noble is a perfect example of this with their coffee shop right in the store.

Here is a great article on the subject.

Personally, I love this trend. I would not be surprised to see more of a fusing of bookstores with local coffee shops / eateries in the future. They don't have to be owned by the same person, but both seek to draw people in through their doors. It is a comfortable setting that are made for each other. It is working for Barnes & Noble why not the smaller retailers?

I feel that the shops that sell the older collectible books and out of print stuff will do fine. They can always augment their local sales with internet selling. This is an advantage over sellers of the new to market books who run straight into competition from B&N and Amazon. They should be fine.

On a side note: Have a Happy New Year everyone! I am thankful for those readers who regularly tune into my blog. I appreciate your time. I will continue with my mission statement here. Yes, this past year I didn't get too much of an opportunity to get out, but it is still something that I intend to do.

2012 is right around the corner. I wish the best to all in this coming year.  

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