Sunday, January 23, 2011

Are Bookstores on the Verge of Extinction?

In talking with local independent book store owners while doing book signings, many expressed fear for their future, even wondering whether one day bookstores themselves will be extinct, considering the meteoric rise of e-books. Several independent bookstores have already gone out of business in my area, due to the bad economy. What will the future hold?
Eight track tapes became cassette tapes, cassettes became CD’s and iPods took over after that, gaining a substantial market foothold with electronic and affordable downloads. More recently, we’ve witnessed the downturn in popularity of large video and DVD rental businesses. I have a DVR on my TV so I buy fewer DVD’s than I have in the past.
What does this all mean with the explosion of e-readers? Every month, the readers become more affordable and user-friendly, with non-glare screens and now color. Already big bookstores are offering deeper discounts on print books and reminding people when they walk in the door how much cheaper e-books are compared to print. And it’s true. Having been in public relations and communications all my life, I know how expensive it is to print something, whether it’s a simple brochure or a more complicated newsletter or membership directory. When you consider the rising costs of ink and paper and the staff needed to produce and create books with hundreds of pages, you can understand the benefits of electronic delivery.
And what about publishers? Many only accept manuscript submissions via e-mail. Print versions of many magazines and newspapers are only half their size. I remember when they were thick, stuffed with ads and special full-color sections. Postage has also gone up because fewer people use the mail due to online banking and shopping and the availability of newspapers and magazines on the Internet.
So what will happen to bookstores? Will they evolve into virtual bookstores, offering snippets of e-books for sale on sample e-readers? Or will they become used or antique bookstores, filled with these quaint memories of the past?

Let’s look at the advantages of books over e-book readers:

1. You can hold them in your hand.
2. They are easy to read.
3. They have flashy, eye-catching covers.


1. You can hold them in your hand.
2. They are easy to read. (using non-glare screens)
3. They have flashy, eye-catching covers. (e-readers are now offered in color)
4. You can store THOUSANDS of books in a device the size of one paperback book.

Today, there are boundless opportunities for writers with the explosion of e-publishing. And with many wonderful websites on the Internet to help writers get the word out, we are truly fortunate.

So what do you think?