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article imageOp-Ed: Do people read real books anymore? Bookstores struggle to survive

By Malysa Stratton Louk     Jan 31, 2012 in Business
Large chains pushed out independent bookstores. Bookstore chains pushed each other out. Barnes & Noble, the last remaining bookstore chain, now stands alone. As eBooks replace print books, can Barnes & Noble survive in an online, digital world?
The decline in physical brick and mortar bookstores has not gone unnoticed by the world at large. Small, independent bookstores quickly went out of business with the rise of major bookstore chains, such as B. Dalton Bookseller, Crown Books, Borders and Walden Books. It wasn’t hard to find a bookstore that carried the latest bestseller, the newest how-to guide hot off the presses, old classics or any book your heart desired.
People could walk into a bookstore chain and find any book they wanted or they could simple spend hours browsing up and down the aisles with no intention of making a purchase. Julie Bosman of The New York Times says:
“Surveys indicate that only a third of the people who step into a bookstore and walk out with a book actually arrived with the specific desire to buy one.”
This suggests that the majority of people who purchase books, have no intention of doing so. Browsing through the bookstore encourage sales. Not only is this good business for bookstores, but benefits the reader, the author, the publisher and everyone involved in the book industry. Publishers count on the browsing habits of readers to sell books. Readers find books they never knew existed and are able to make informed purchasing decisions. Win-win for everyone.
Whether due to a failing economy or an increase in digital media, including the ability to quickly and easily shop online, book sales dwindled and several major chains joined independent bookstores in closing their doors. Bosman reported:
“Since 2002, the United States has lost roughly 500 independent bookstores — nearly one out of five. About 650 bookstores vanished when Borders went out of business last year.”
While some independent bookstores remain, they are sinking fast as they struggle to stay afloat. Remember those bookstore chains in the mall? Or the ones down the street where you could relax, have a cup of coffee, browse through a magazine and find your favorite book? They are gone. When Borders closed its doors last year, it left Barnes & Noble standing along in a digital world dominated by
It’s no secret that Barnes & Noble came late to the eBook party, creating the Nook long after Amazon’s Kindle was running full force. As Barnes & Noble continues to play catch up, always following behind Amazon, the digital world continues to push out print.
With the growing popularity of’s publishing services, where does this leave print publications? And more importantly, what will happen to the last remaining bookstore chain? Can Barnes & Noble survive Amazon’s dominance? Maybe. For the sake of print publications, let’s hope they can catch up and stay afloat – with both the digital and world and the print world.
If and when Barnes & Noble shuts its doors, it could mean the end of print publications as Amazon pushes to eliminate the middleman in book publishing. In the meantime, go read a book – a real book.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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