The Future of the Book

Online Bookstore Drama

By posted at 5:51 pm on May 27, 2008 1

Who knew. More than ten years after Amazon revolutionized retailing and became a dot-com-boom-and-bust poster child, online bookstores are once again a hot topic. Part of the reason is that corporate book retailing is experiencing a particularly tumultuous period. As we discussed over the weekend, Borders is in dire straits and may be bought out by Barnes and Noble within months. (Meanwhile, Barnes and Noble isn’t exactly hale – its stock price is down 32% in the last twelve months.)

Borders, as we’ve noted, has been grasping at new strategies to keep it afloat. The latest is to ditch its long-standing relationship with Amazon to open its own online bookstore. Can Borders possibly gain ground on Amazon? I tend to agree with this sentiment: “‘Amazon just dominates,’ said Fred Crawford, managing director at turnaround consultant AlixPartners who has studied consumer attitudes toward major booksellers. ‘Amazon is nearly unassailable.'”

coverAmazon, meanwhile, is looking to reinvent book retailing once again with the Kindle. The Kindle has been both praised and reviled – guest contributor Buzz penned a worthwhile take on the initial mania that surrounded the reading device’s release last year. A few months on, rhetoric from Amazon continues to suggest that the company sees the device as a game changer and positive reviews are trickling in. Perhaps more importantly, Kindles are back in stock after a long hiatus, and they are now sporting a slimmer price, slashed 10% to $359.

What happens next? It would be foolish to predict, but don’t be surprised if a few months from now we have one fewer big bookstore chain. And don’t be surprised if, a few years from now, Amazon is still rolling out new mays to sell books.

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One Response to “Online Bookstore Drama”

  1. Gayla
    at 3:19 am on May 28, 2008

    I bought a Kindle several weeks ago. (My husband's not going to be happy to learn we could have gotten it for 40 bucks cheaper.) I love it, and my great fear is that it will turn out to be just a fad and publishers will stop releasing books for it.

    I understand the romance of paper books, but from a practical point of view, I have 3,000 books and hopefully several decades of book-buying ahead of me. Something has to give or I will have to buy a second home just to hold my books. I'd much rather buy books for the Kindle than cease buying them altogether.

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