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Old 09-03-2010, 10:05 PM   #4
DMcCunney
New York Editor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeremyR View Post
I think bookstores face the problem that many other specialty stores do. The book market has gotten too top heavy, reliant on the "blockbuster". Like movies and music, it's only the top stuff that really sells (and thus makes them money).

They have to compete with the larger big box stores carrying the top stuff, and now on another front, e-books.

So no, it doesn't matter that whatever book Oprah and the NYTimes is pushing at the moment also comes with an ebook. They will still be competing with other sources, and they are always going to lose. And they've lost out on the niche market, just like the music and movie stores have, by their focus on the blockbuster to the exclusion of all else.
Yes and no. For the publishers, bestsellers may mean the difference between making money and losing it. Most books never "earn out" - that is, sell enough copies to cover the cost of producing the book, and the author's advance, and sell enough more that the author sees additional money beyond the initial advance. And some books hoped to be bestsellers and given advances and promotion in proportion tank and lose a lot of money.

But bookstores face additional challenges. One is as you mentioned: that they aren't the only places that sell books. Barnes and Noble and Borders are in competition with CostCo and Sam's Club, which have enormous clout in the industry because of the volume of books they sell. Another is the special challenge presented by ebooks. With an ereader or other device that can connect to the Internet, you don't have to go to a store to buy the books. You can get them at any time wherever you happen to be. The question in my mind when Sony was releasing its reader and attempting to partner with brick and mortar retailers to sell it was how to create a continuing engagement with the customer. If you're a bookstore selling readers, what brings the customer back to the store once they have the reader?

I think it's precisely that continuing engagement that is the focus here.
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