Poor Barnes and Noble. Do they realize how many people conflate them with Borders? Borders made tons of mistakes, that probably doomed them long before e-readers had any effect.
I was talking to someone the other day about how B & N seems to be adding more non-book product as time goes on; toys, games, knick-knacks of all kinds. "That's what Border's was doing at the end."
"And it put them out of business," the customer said.
"No -- it was a symptom of the fact that their books weren't selling enough, not the cause. They were desperately looking for things to sell to replace the lost revenue. Barnes and Noble is more or less showing they have no faith in the long-term prospects of books. (Never mind the irony of a kiosk of Nook e-readers in the front of their store.)
Meanwhile, independent bookstores are fairly constantly going out of business and almost always blame e-readers, these days. I think that's just a convenient excuse. For one thing, bookstores have always been difficult, and there has always been a large turnover. Interestingly, for all their talk of adopted new technologies -- when I talk to bookstore owners they often have the most ''traditional" of mindsets. Books have always sold a certain way, and therefore they always will. (And then they talk about "adding" the new technology....)
I don't actually believe the e-readers are putting bookstores out of business yet -- unless you say it was the straw that broke the camel's back. On a scale of 1 - 10, I'd say the original "You Got Mail" giant chains, hit with an 8 impact. Then Amazon hit with an 8 impact. I also think that the effect of Walmart and Costco selling books has had a major, mostly unacknowledged impact: I give it a 5.
E-books? I give them a 2 so far.
But then again, if you've already had the dread epidemics of the first three, the little touch of flu from e-books might be enough to kill you.
(Actual book sales would confirm what I'm saying -- sales of books really haven't dropped anywhere near the extent that most people assume.)
Meanwhile, when DC announced their New 52 effort, I suspect that half the internal focus, maybe more, was on the digital outreach.
But now that the comics have actually begun arriving, almost all the media attention and sales and general interest has been in the actual COMICS.
Jim Lee, mucky-muck for DC and artist for Justice League, is famous for holding up a single sheet of paper, showing it edgewise to a room full of retailers, and saying something to the effect of "These are current digital sales...."
The physical copies of the New DC are going to be selling in the millions. I suspect the actual paid digital will be tiny in comparison.
But everyone will tell me digital is inevitable, that books and comics are doomed.
I don't think so. I'm staking my business on the idea that for at least the next 5 to 10 years there will sufficient interest in physical copies.
I think Barnes and Noble is betting the opposite, which means they are betting on their own demise; their leap toward e-readers is an admission that they think their brick and mortar stores are doomed. I think betting against yourself is a sure way to lose.
1 week ago