I’m sure everyone by now has heard about the Borders chain going bankrupt and they decided to close quite a few stores across the country. I’ve never actually walked into a Borders store, usually making the local Barnes & Noble my point of destination. Perhaps if a Borders had been built near us instead of Barnes & Noble, Borders would have been the place I would have gone to do my book browsing.
However, when you think about it, I have been in our local Barnes & Noble once in the past year and that was because it was Christmas and I was in stores I either never go in or don’t go in frequently just to find those gifts for the hard to please. I know you all did the same thing.
I am a book lover, though. My business is books, not only as an author but also as a book promoter. I live, eat, dream books. In the past few years, there has been a change in my book buying habits and in the last two months, that change increased. I found myself buying online.
It’s not that I hate bookstores at all. It’s just that I love buying my books online now. What’s changed for me in the last two months is that now I have a Kindle. Kindle books are cheap usually. Cheaper than their print counterparts, except in the case of Stephen King’s oldie but goodie On Writing which was $2 more in Kindle format. I bought the paperback instead and I did so online at Amazon.
So you can’t really blame Kindle altogether. People will buy books they want, but they are also looking to fulfill that reading fix by purchasing less expensively and if Amazon wants to offer them to me free or under $3 or at least cheaper than the paperback, I am so there. I don’t mind reading books on my e-reader at all. In fact, I rather think it’s neat to do so.
So if bookstores offered all their books at a drastic cut of only $3 to keep people from buying online, would you be more tempted to get in the car, drive through traffic and stand in line (believe me, if they were offering all their books for $3, there’d be a line out the wazoo) to buy?
No and I’ll tell you why. If the bookstores offered these books for $3, Amazon would repeat the strategy so that they wouldn’t lose customers either.
So bookstores are cooked and Amazon would be cooked because no one would be making enough money off of it to survive and that’s the problem now.
Ebooks are cheaply made and cheaply sold, not to mention accessible within minutes. It doesn’t matter you don’t have the pleasure of smelling that familiar aroma of new pages being turned and it doesn’t matter you’re not adding to your existing library at home and no it doesn’t matter you can’t fondle this book in your hand. What does matter is that when I want a book and I can get it in a couple of minutes, why do anything else?
Don’t get me wrong; I still love paperbacks, but if we get real about the situation and backtrack to when we last walked into a bookstore to buy a book, then that’s when we realize what is happening. If we look at our book buying habits in the last year, the truth unfolds – the Internet has opened up worlds of possibilities never before dreamed of. We as civilized people love new gadgets to make our lives simpler, easier, convenient and less time-consuming and the Kindle (or any other e-reading device) fits the bill nicely. Amazon has made it super simple to download a book and that’s what people are looking for, too – simplicity. Anything that helps bring down the stress level, people are going to jump on it.
So I believe we as a civilized people who need to find ways to improve our lives are the reason why bookstores are closing down. The more we advance in our ways of finding products that will make our lives easier, who knows what will be next on the chopping block?
Dorothy Thompson is CEO/Founder of Pump Up Your Book, an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotions. Visit us at www.PumpUpYourBook.com or connect with us at Twitter at www.twitter.com/pumpupyourbook and Facebook at www.facebook.com/pumpupyourbook. Email her at thewriterslife(at)yahoo.com.