Sign of The Times: Barnes and Noble in the Bargain Bucket!

We’ve all seen it coming. Slowly at first. But recently the Digitization of Publishing has taken off like a rocket! First it was the online book stores, Amazon and Co, who crippled the indie bookstores, now it’s iPads and Apple who are rapidly contributing to the transformation of the book-to-consumer distribution model.

Eventually, we will end up with a full direct-to-consumer model with the majority of books being delivered as POD (Print on Demand) either purchased in store, online or back of the room to then be shipped within 24 hrs.

It’s even possible that libraries will become the “hosts” of these in store Expresso machines (the industry name for the super speedy POD device), while the remainder of books will be sent as direct downloads to some form of electronic device—the iPad, laptop, Kindle, PC, iPhone, Android, possibly even your TV and, who knows, some kind of sci-fi pair of reading glasses that hasn’t even been invented yet.

The point is that this rapid evolution is whipping up the book retail world at a rapid pace. No-one really knows how long this transformation is going to take, we’ve certainly seen phenomenal uptake of the iPad and the iPhone in recent months, but overall, eBook sales as a percentage of total book sales are still tiny.

The most obvious impact so far is that of slow sales in traditional book retail outlets, such as Barnes and Noble, who, in light of reporting a 19.5% downturn in sales this year have put the company up for sale.

However, on a visit to their Santa Monica store last friday night, I was bemused to see the place full at 10.3opm at night, by 10.45 they were asking people to leave as though it were nightclub, requesting customers be out the door by 11.00pm and informing them of opening hours the next day. When I commented on this to the server, she said: “It’s like this every week, we literally have to push people out the door at closing!”

Hmmmmm….

So, are the high street stores really struggling due to lack of interest, or is it slow sales due to the fact that we are in deep recession? Or, is it that everyone wants their books immediately, or would rather get the 20-30% discount offered by Amazon, only to pay the extra on shipping, but regain the time that would otherwise be spent traipsing to the bookstore?

Only time will tell.

Either way, you might want to check out the article in the WSJ on the Barnes and Noble Bucket Sale

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Categories: Book Retail, Publishing

Author:Gemini Adams

Multiple-award winning, bestselling author, artist and founder of the Finish Your Book educational program.

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