Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Brick and Mortar Bookstores - The B&N Conundrum

(Photo courtesy The Dusty Bookshelf, Manhattan, Kansas)

Barnes & Noble reported, this morning, that their losses have more than doubled over the same time last year. This puts the question before lovers of physical books, and the experience of browsing through shelves, as to whether the chain will need to close some or all of their remaining 675 stores. Since B&N is the last chain of bookstores of any significant size is the end of the physical book store experience nigh? I certainly hope not.

My expectation is that B&N will need to shrink but my hope is that the loss can be replaced by rejuvenated local independent book stores, with the support and nurturing of the publishers, both large and small. My two local independent book stores both have cafes and loads of programming - readings, author visits, music, kids' programs, etc. as well as knowledgeable and personable staff. They encapsulate everything that the monster B&N store has, but in a smaller, more intimate setting.

I, personally, would love for more indies to return to more neighborhoods. The survival of the small independent stores would require the support of publishers large and small. They would have to back off of selling everything cheaper on Amazon than the brick and mortar store can afford. As a buyer, I am willing to often trade the convenience of being able to order anything I want any time I want online for the experience of shopping/browsing but I, as a bibliophile, cannot pay a premium.

What do you think?

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