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Old 03-19-2007, 07:40 AM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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Bookstores: Digital or paper? Or both?

The Washington Post reports (free reg req) that Politics and Prose, one of the most enduring independent bookstores in Washington DC and participant in the Caravan Project, has started to sell e-book titles in-store.

Quote:
Imagine you're a customer looking for a book you don't find on the shelf. As you would now, you'll likely ask a bookseller to check the store computer for it. As is not yet possible, the bookseller will say: "We can order you a print copy or we can sell it to you in other formats, some of which could be ready for downloading by the time you get home. How would you like it?"
Well, e-books and bookstores, these two totally go together, I think. But HarperCollins and another unnamed big-name company quoted in the article disagree, and they believe it's going to be irrelevant for publishers. On which side are you?

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Old 03-19-2007, 08:24 AM   #2
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With the current DRM where the download is dongled to the device this way is impossible, but for unencumbered ebooks it would be a nice idea.
Either directly copy it on the device (limited to USB or SD card) or send it as email to the customer.

It allows me to buy my books anonymously and the bookshop to sell books.
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Old 03-19-2007, 09:11 AM   #3
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I think it is a good way to go. Bookstores will not vanish, and e-books won't replace papperbooks so why not let them live in harmony side by side
But it would be nice to be able to load your e-book device in the store,.
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Old 03-19-2007, 01:03 PM   #4
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Bookstores will vanish eventually and I hope it will happen sooner then later. As computers and portable readers improve more and more people will throw away their books. Even this bastard child of book industry, pdf format, will go away. Electronic media is more convenient , cheaper and can do so much more then a simple paperback. If Gutenberg had access to modern technology at his time he would throw away his printing press.

Sure, we will see a lot of sh*t and fud from publishers/bookstores because they are going the way of dinosaurs. Lets just hope they wont slow down progress too much.
There are also going to be people who claim that electronic books are heartless which is complete BS. Books are just a way of conveying ideas from one person to another. It just happens to be that till now there was nothing better then paper. I bet that if Gutenberg had access to modern technology at his time he would throw away his printing press.
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Old 03-19-2007, 05:09 PM   #5
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Well, I'm not so sure about that, but in the meantime, I'm pleased by the idea of bookstores selling electronic books. Sometimes, I am in a pressing need for a book-- I can't find it at my university's library, and no bookstore in the area has it. I've jumped in the car numerous times to drive to the next city to buy a book that I've needed **right then**! (And I live in a major city; not a small town). So the idea that the bookstore could sell me an electronic copy of book they didn't have in the store is awesome! That, of course, would require that an electronic copy exists, and I guess that's still a problem; not enough digital context exists at the moment, especially content target to the academic market.
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Old 03-19-2007, 11:14 PM   #6
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I agree that the two belong together. However, the publishing industry will probably fight just as hard as the music industry to keep control of the products/data they offer. Maybe even more so since the publishing world has been fighting for copyright law since the invention of the Gutenberg Press; over 450 years.

I'd love to see a small self-serve kiosk set up in Borders, right next to the Sony Reader kiosk, with access to free and DRM edition ebooks that you could purchase & email. Although, until the price for readers drops significantly, remember when DVD players first came out, I doubt things will change too much.
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Old 03-20-2007, 09:46 AM   #7
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In my fight to get people to accept ebooks, I keep saying that ebooks are simply another medium, just like POD, which starts as an ebook and ends up as paper. Selling ebooks in a bookstore makes great sense. It would also work to legitimize the medium.
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Old 03-20-2007, 10:40 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leha
Bookstores will vanish eventually and I hope it will happen sooner then later. As computers and portable readers improve more and more people will throw away their books.
I doubt it. A bookstore is more than a place to buy books. The bookstore i go to http://www.morgenwelt.org does things like reading sessions etc. No ebook device will ever be able to replace such a social meeting point.
Hugendubel (a big bookstore chain) has coffee shops in their stores and allows to read books from the shelves there.

All in all bookstores are too important in promoting books to be abandoned.
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Old 03-20-2007, 11:27 AM   #9
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RE: eBooks in bookstores.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Marquard
I doubt it. A bookstore is more than a place to buy books. The bookstore i go to http://www.morgenwelt.org does things like reading sessions etc. No ebook device will ever be able to replace such a social meeting point.
Hugendubel (a big bookstore chain) has coffee shops in their stores and allows to read books from the shelves there.

All in all bookstores are too important in promoting books to be abandoned.
Hardly. Tower Books and others have kiosks where customers can listen to songs from their favorite artists. There's no reason why a modern store can't have ebook readers in the 'reading section' which contain a sampling of new releases or even let the clerks download a given title to the store's ebook readers. And with RFID tags being so small and easy to hide, the stores could have alarms built into them which track the readers so no one can steal them out of the store.

I think this would be a great idea.

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Old 03-20-2007, 11:35 AM   #10
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Huh? Why will that make bookstores go away? It will in fact make bookstores more attractive. I very much doubt that paper books will ever be abandoned. They work without electricity.
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Old 03-20-2007, 05:04 PM   #11
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I mentioned this to my wife yesterday and her view, like mine, is that this makes no sense. Ebooks are abstract things, available out of thin air, they require no physical selling space. If I am going to buy an ebook, I buy it sitting at my desk. Ebooks do not need bookstores, and I think it will take very little time for bookstores to realize it.
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Old 03-20-2007, 05:13 PM   #12
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You've got a valid point, radleyp, but it seems that there are others who value the bookstore experience even with e-books (I'm one of them, as it happens ). I think that if it were possible to purchase e-books at a brick & mortar store, along side the paper ones, I'd be quite pleased about that, so I think that there very well may be room for them to co-exist, I hope so, anyway. In any case, only time will tell how it will play out, perhaps something totally unexpected will happen instead.
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Old 03-21-2007, 08:52 AM   #13
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Here is the advantage to the bookstore that sells e-books. For high volume readers, which I will assume is the target market of the reading devices, bookstores, particularly in smaller markets, have a pretty limited stock. If you show up at the store to browse, maybe with a list of 'interesting' things you have seen in reviews on-line, forums, etc., many of these smaller bookstores may say something on the order of 'sure, we can order that for you'. Which sort of defeats the purpose of showing up, since you really wanted to leave with a book.

Now, if you accept either paper or bits both as valid formats for reading books, you never need to leave without what you planned on getting.

AND, if electronic books now represent less than x% of the market, at some point that could be x+15% or more. As a bookstore chain or owner, do you want to just watch that percentage of higher volume readers not show up anymore? If they don't show up, you will never get that 'oh, this looks interesting' unanticipated purchase.
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Old 03-21-2007, 12:32 PM   #14
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That doesn't make sense to me. You can check all the available ebooks on your home or office computer, so why would you go to the bookstore at all? The beauty of buying online - and this is what bothers all retailers these days, not just bookstores - is that it is cheaper and it avoids a trip to a store. In that sense, buying online and going to a store are contradictory.
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Old 03-21-2007, 12:34 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radleyp
That doesn't make sense to me. You can check all the available ebooks on your home or office computer, so why would you go to the bookstore at all? The beauty of buying online - and this is what bothers all retailers these days, not just bookstores - is that it is cheaper and it avoids a trip to a store. In that sense, buying online and going to a store are contradictory.
Serendipity. Browsing is still best done in a store, IMHO.
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