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January 22, 2014

            A while back, I did the article, Bookstores – Rarer By The Day. It was triggered by the closing of our local Barnes & Noble in downtown Las Vegas. That was in October 2012 and the store closed December 31, 2012. We now have adjusted to driving to Henderson, which has turned out to be about the same distance. However, there have been a few more ominous events since that time.

            The main Barnes & Noble store in New York, a staple for almost a century, give or take, is shutting its doors, if it hasn’t already. When the main store of almost the only chain bookstore left in the country shutters its doors, is that a good sign? This store, not to put too sympathetic of a light on it, was directly or indirectly responsible for putting many a mom-and-pop bookstore in the local area out of business, effectively stifling the competition with the “big box” idea. Yet, at the same time, along came a virtual big box company, Amazon and guess what? The real big box store, or should I say, the paper book store, is in serious trouble, and I’m not just talking about the struggling Barnes & Noble. This is an entire industry.

As one who detests e-books, I refuse to give in to the e-reader, at least for as long as I can. I’ve tried my wife’s. She bought a book she didn’t like. That’s exactly one of my huge issues with them, by the way. More on that later. She asked if I’d like to try reading it. Since I was between books, I said I’d give it a try since she had an actual paper book she wanted to read.

I enjoyed the story, though it wasn’t really my taste. At least it was third-person. However, scrolling down the pages with that darn reader bugged me. Sure, when I stopped reading for any reason, my place was right there. I didn’t have to worry about losing my spot. I could also change the font size. But I couldn’t jump to the end, or smell the pages. I didn’t have any tactile feel of the paper. I also could very well make the mistake she did and have no way to tell whether the book sucked before I bought it. Sure, without reading the whole story, you can’t tell everything, but at least you can pop here and there and look for various writing styles to see what the author is up to in a paper book. Not so with an e-book. You’re stuck with whatever writing sample, if any, Amazon or whoever, decides to give you. Often as not, it doesn’t truly represent what’s actually between the pages (or electrons).

Now as for Amazon, in Morgan St. James latest Writer’s Tricks Of The Trade newsletter, there was a short article that mentioned the big Kahuna at Amazon has some knew “something” that is going to blow everyone away. This has nothing to do with the UAV’s (or robotic delivery planes), which may or may not be a dumb idea. The jury’s out on that one. Anyway, this “something” is supposed to be so revolutionary as to be… well, it will make the Segway, or whatever it’s called, look like amateur tinkering… I guess. Remember all the hoopla about that gadget?

Conventional book publishing is taking serious hits. It’s not gone, but some people are just giving up on them before the fight is even over, and that’s just the publishers, distributors and sellers! Instead of putting their heads together and coming up with revolutionary ideas to keep things afloat, I think a lot of them are bowing to the imaginary inevitable and giving up.

I wonder whatever happened to those print-on-demand printers that were supposed to revolutionize the industry? Yeah, the cost of one was phenomenal, but I was expecting the costs to eventually go down if there was any kind of demand. You know, go to the bookstore, pick out the book you want, sit down at the local Starbucks and wait while the clerk goes in the back and prints it off for you.

We can only dream.

Happy book buying. At least while you still can.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. It's 5 past 50 permalink
    January 22, 2014 5:50 pm

    My daughter purchased one of the very first Kindle’s after being diagnosed with ‘reader’s thumb’ (no joke) and she loves it. But like you said, and she’ll admit, she reads a lot of crap. Mostly a lot of free or very cheap crap… just because it’s free or cheap.
    I’ve also been a rebel about giving in to ebooks. I completely hate the idea, but looks like I’ll soon inherit that original Kindle and will give it a try. Not the least bit interested in the Fire.
    We still have our local B&N and several indie stores. One – Page One – is in the process of moving and I’ve been told it hasn’t been easy, but they are determined to stay open. I loved the atmosphere of their old store and I think it’s important to have a tangible place like that to go to. Although I haven’t taken advantage, outside of selling on consignment, they’ve been extremely supportive of local authors. Anyhow, I hope the paper book won’t completely disappear. The B&A and Hastings stores in ABQ have been packed every time I’ve stopped by, but Hastings also sells music and a lot of other stuff and is the only place to rent movies these days other than Redbox, so I think they’ll be around for a while.

    • January 23, 2014 2:37 am


      Great to hear from you!

      Wow, haven’t seen a Hastings since we left Oklahoma. Kind of miss them.

      Yeah, the mom and pop stores have all but been wiped out by the big box places. They are few and far between. I don’t think print books will go away completely but they are going to be harder to find as the big box stores cut their own throats. Maybe Hastings needs to start expanding if B&N doesn’t get their act together. Maybe they never should’ve gone into the e-reader business. It certainly didn’t work so well for Sony!

      Thanks for writing.


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