What Barnes and Nobles is facing is common to all the other brick and mortar retail stores. They are being squeezed out by their internet competitors who, without the cost overhead of a real store, can offer the same goods at a much discounted price. Customers flock to whoever that can give them the bang for the buck and retail stores for a lot of them is just a place to try out their internet pre-order.
Foot traffic in Barnes and Nobles as well as Borders is still very good but a lot of people just go there to browse their favorite books, relax and enjoy the library like ambience; however, they order their books somewhere else on the internet, and probably through Amazon. Besides the onslaught of the internet, the emergence of ebooks just adds another dimension to the picture. Amazon’s ambition to change the world of publishing from 100% paper to 99% electronic will soon be a reality and in order to survive, B&N and the like are struggling to adapt to the new operation model. To divert cash to invest in the ebook business, they have to shred more brick and mortar stores. They have a good chance to stay in business; however, what remains of B&N in the future is no more the friendly neighborhood bookstore that we have grown to love so much today.
Besides our local bookstores, we are also losing our public libraries too. It is a good thing that the public libraries are stocking up on ebooks but at the same time, they are eliminating branches, cutting staff and reducing office hours. The electronic age has given us independence, convenience and efficiency at our own home but it has somehow stifled some considered to be very special personalized experience. There will be losses and gains in this new era but at the end, we’ll get exactly what we are bargaining for.