I read today that Barnes & Noble has put itself up for sale. Despite branching out with music and cafes, their brick and mortar stores aren’t doing well. This offering caused the price of its stock to go up 21% today, but there are some who question whether there will be many buyers while B & N is primarily a brick and mortar store.
While B & N’s troubles are being laid at the door of digital books, I think the real damage has come from the ease of online shopping for hard copy books. Amazon in particular makes it soooo easy to spend money. I can browse all day from my armchair if I want. Amazon will make recommendations; I can look inside the book and find out what others think of it before I buy — for less money.
The chain bookstores are feeling now what they put the independent bookstores through. It’s hard to feel sorry for them. They won’t go away completely, though, just as the indies haven’t disappeared. There will just be fewer of them.
As Kris Tualla and many others have pointed out, the publishing world is changing, and bookstores are part of that world. It’s a pretty safe bet that change will accelerate, creating new opportunities for the nimble. The hard part for big business is keeping up.
BTW, check out Kris Tualla’s YouTube video here. It made me laugh.