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Old 07-14-2011, 09:52 AM   #1
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Can regular bookstores co-exist with ebooks?

I thought this article was an interesting and thought-provoking commentary on how regular bookstores could co-exist with ebooks instead of fearing the competition: http://www.teleread.com/borders/can-...book-customer/

It made me think about how our local Chapters-Indigo stores (in Canada) could do better at this. Many of the chain stores do have a prominent Kobo display (not surprising since the two companies are partners), but it must still be a concern to the people who work there that ebooks take away from their business. But maybe this doesn't have to be the case.

There are two ways to look at the business of bricks&mortar bookstores:

a) They are a channel for distributing paper books that need physical storage and display space, for those that still prefer paper.

b) They are a wonderful library for browsing for new content, much richer and more satisfying than the online book browsing experience.

To the extent that they focus on a), they are already competing with retailers like Amazon who offer the books cheaper by mail, and now ebooks will eat away even more at their business.

But many already focus on b), improving the in-person browsing experience.

What they lack is a direct link from the browsing experience to the sale of ebooks.

I like to browse for books in the bookstore. I like it a lot better than browsing for books online. The problem is that if a I find a book I like, and I'd like to have it as an ebook, I can't buy it right away. I have to think "I must remember to buy that later" - but I often forget or just don't bother.

Suppose that the bookstore had an ebook sale station where you could take a book, scan its bar code, enter your Kobo account name/pwd (or just scan your own personal paper card with a bar code), and the corresponding ebook would be automatically added and charged to your Kobo account. The sale would be made immediately, and the ebook would be downloaded to your Kobo the next time you sync. You wouldn't need to have your Kobo with you (after all, how many people are carrying their Kobo when they drop in to the bookstore?). Impulse ebook buying would get a lot easier - and that would equal higher sales.

Now add a small commission on the sale to the bookstore, for providing the browsing experience and point-of-sale processing, which is their actual value added. Now you have a business model that could work.

Last edited by FJames; 07-14-2011 at 10:05 AM.
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Old 07-14-2011, 10:11 AM   #2
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Dean Smith had an article a few weeks back about the possibility of using gift cards for individual books in stores. http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=4154 I can see the advantages for gift-giving purposes.
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Old 07-14-2011, 10:40 AM   #3
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I think large chain brick and mortors will go the way of the dinosaurs within 10 years. They have become obsolete. Publishers will see that selling ebooks is much more profitable than printing bunches of books that sit unbought in bookstores.

But I also believe that mom and pop used bookstores will do well for a long time still to come. At least until the generation older than me is gone.
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Old 07-14-2011, 10:47 AM   #4
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Chapters Indigo seems to be taking a different route--devoting space for toys, home decor, and other non-book related merchandise whilst actively promoting ebooks. See: http://www.thestar.com/business/arti...he-digital-age.
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Old 07-14-2011, 11:28 AM   #5
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I really like the idea of selling giftcards for specific books in brick and mortar stores. Great way to keep them relevant.

Also, for those who have worries about buying online with credit cards (I'm sure there are still some who have this concern), it will allow them to enjoy e-reading without the worries of connecting an online account to a VISA, etc.
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FJames View Post
I like to browse for books in the bookstore. I like it a lot better than browsing for books online. The problem is that if a I find a book I like, and I'd like to have it as an ebook, I can't buy it right away. I have to think "I must remember to buy that later" - but I often forget or just don't bother.
I had the same problem until I added a bar code scanning app to my phone. Now I simply scan and copy the ISBN when I get home.
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Old 07-14-2011, 09:45 PM   #7
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Having Chapters/Indigo buying over half of Kobo shows that the b&m guys are not ignoring the field at all. Maybe being a little more proactive *might* help in the stores themselves, though I must say that I've never had any problems in my local store when I had questions or concerns, but overall I think that the retailers are doing a good job and the publishers are following right behind.

Compared to the music business, the book field looks like it's being run by geniuses.
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Old 07-14-2011, 09:51 PM   #8
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Chapters Indigo seems to be taking a different route--devoting space for toys, home decor, and other non-book related merchandise whilst actively promoting ebooks. See: http://www.thestar.com/business/arti...he-digital-age.
SO have B&N, but they haven't expanded far beyond the line of "readers", and quite frankly I don't expect to ever purchase non-literary related merchandise from a bookseller...

That said B&N embraced ebooks MUCH more quickly and adroitly than Borders and even arguably than Amazon so far... however the limitation of competition is worrisome especially couple with the dimwitted publishing industry forcing agency pricing for INCREDIBLY INFERIOR product.

[EDIT]
i.e. really all of the LARGE booksellers for years have had some non-literary product offering, but to no real volume... e.g. they've ALWAYS offered P&P RPG game books, etc and most puzzles, etc.
[/EDIT]
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Old 07-17-2011, 07:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
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I had the same problem until I added a bar code scanning app to my phone. Now I simply scan and copy the ISBN when I get home.
Ted can you share the bar code app?
Currently I take photos - sure makes for an interesting photo album - currently I have pictures of books, sofas, options for my daughter's musical costume, several dresses for an important dinner, a few cars my son is interested in and firewood (price comparisons there - I don't really care what it looks like!)
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Old 07-17-2011, 08:36 PM   #10
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What kind of handset do you have? I run Android and use either ZXing's Barcode Scanner or eBay Mobile's Redlaser Barcode Scanner.
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Old 07-17-2011, 10:05 PM   #11
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After the Great Bookshop Debacle in Australia we were all wondering if we were going the spend the next 10 years without reading material, but this article from the Weekend Australian might point to some better times:
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/nati...-1226095571225
In fact, the shake-up might be the best thing that has happened in the book selling business.
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