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Amazon Gets Blow-Back Over Plan To Sell Kindles At Small Bookshops 176

Posted by Soulskill
from the would-you-like-help-ruining-your-business? dept.
Rambo Tribble writes "No sooner had Amazon revealed their plan to offer independent book shops the Kindle for re-sale, along with a kick-back on e-book purchases, than the fur began to fly. It appears the shops view the plan as Amazon-assisted suicide. Given the apparent terms of the deal, it looks like they may have a point. Amazon may well have done themselves more harm than good with this ploy. One storeowner wrote, 'Hmmm, let's see. We sell Kindles for essentially no profit, the new Kindle customer is in our store where they can browse and discover books, the new Kindle customer can then check the price on Amazon and order the e-book. We make a little on their e-book purchases, but then lose them as a customer completely after two years. Doesn't sound like such a great partnership to me.'"
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Amazon Gets Blow-Back Over Plan To Sell Kindles At Small Bookshops

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  • by SigNuZX728 (635311) on Friday November 08, 2013 @05:23PM (#45373069)
    You might as well get what money you can while you can. Owning a book store does not sound like a thing that is going to last for long. Maybe if you ask nicely, you can get Amazon to put some of their delivery lockers in your store.
    • Amazon Bookstore (Score:5, Interesting)

      by alexander_686 (957440) on Friday November 08, 2013 @05:58PM (#45373301)

      The independent books that I know have a small edges going for them.

      There is new market for “shopping / entertainment“. You go to the store to be entertained and you pay via a purchase. Kind of like renting office space at the coffee shop for the price of a cup of coffee. Most of these shops tend to be narrowly focused, have a deep catalog of hard to fine / out of print stuff (which is sold via Amazon), have lots of events (singings, clubs, etc.) and sell a lot of stuff other than books.

      Oddly the one that I am thinking about was the Amazon Bookstore specializing in woman and lesbian literature. There was a bit of a tussle between them and Amazon.com over the name and the more or less won that fight.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by EdIII (1114411)

        There was a bit of a tussle between them and Amazon.com

        Were they sentenced to death by snu-snu?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by hawguy (1600213)

      You might as well get what money you can while you can. Owning a book store does not sound like a thing that is going to last for long.

      Exactly -- if the customer is in the store and the store can't show that they provide any value to that customer, it sounds like the stores have already lost.

      It's not like customers aren't going to buy a Kindle just because they can't find it in their local bookstore.

      • by jythie (914043)
        Part of the problem is that the bookstore does provide value to the customer, but when they finally make their purchase they do it form Amazon instead.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I will relate my experience in a bookstore.

          I visited, found a book ( an Arduino programming manual ), and, looked for somewhere to read it, as I am getting older and standing causes my feet and ankles to swell up.

          So I wander down to the cafe area and sit. No one much is there so I figured I would not be in the way. In no time, I had someone right over telling me this area is for cafe customers only. Sorry. My bad.

          It looks just like a Starbucks cafe with stuff served in Starbucks cups. Ok.. I'll o
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            So basically, two employees told you that they're not *allowed*to ignore the rules (unless they want to lose their jobs) in order to give you a free drink, a senior discount for people older than you or discount your book just because...and you figured the bookstore was at fault? Really?

            Here's the kind of thing decent people do in situations like those:
            -- We realize the cafe is probably just paying to use the Starbucks name/equipment so customers will stay on-site for a quick drink/snack rather than leave

          • by LurkerXXX (667952)

            The only think I learned from the story is that you are a giant douchebag.

    • by undeadbill (2490070) on Friday November 08, 2013 @06:35PM (#45373567)

      I still use bookstores, but I go there to buy high quality hardbound prints of books that I like to re-read, or older paperbacks. The small bookstores I go to have always catered to this market, so while there may be some issues with bookstores staying afloat, the ones I go to have been expanding their selection of quality bound books. I've bought several copies as gifts as well, all from the same two stores near where I live. I never considered doing that on Amazon, as I can't gauge the print quality over the internet.

      Another thing is that certain specialty book stores (like scifi/fantasy genre stores) will always have the best fiction on their shelves, vs the metric assload of poor quality stories I find as the majority of Amazon selections, with a very limited ability to refine searches based upon preferences that I can more easily communicate to a person.

      And I'm saying this as an Amazon Prime user with an extensive selection of kindle titles. Most of those are copies that I own and keep for travel purposes. What I would like to see are book publishers distributing download codes with their books, so I could get an ebook copy after I pay for a high quality printing. I really don't consider the burgeoning ebook reader market of people who are rediscovering books on marketplaces like Amazon as the same market of avid readers who like the feel of a good book in their hands- if anything, I'd wager that many Amazon users will start buying hardbounds in the future much as I am doing now.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Desler (1608317)

      Totally. Just the other day I kicked over some whore, pissed on her and then threw a couple of bucks at her. And that bitch had the audacity to complain! So I told her "What do you have to complain about, bitch? You got some money out of this".

    • by smash (1351)
      Pretty much this. People WILL buy books online irrespective of whether the book store owner sells kindles or not. They can either become a reseller for kindle/other book reader, or they die without making any money out of the inevitable change.
    • Yeah the objection voiced above seems to be based in the premise that people won't know about Kindles if they're not on display in their bookstore. Sort of like how if I close my eyes, you can't see me.

  • No duh. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08, 2013 @05:24PM (#45373071)

    Big Warehouse Book stores kill the independent book stores. Amazon killed the Big Book stores. But the silver lining is that the death of the Big Warehouse Book stores gave new life to the independents. So now Amazon tries to kill the independents, but they are not morons.

    The independents were saved by Amazon, but that doesn't mean they are stupid enough to let Amazon kill them next.

  • How is this worse? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Friday November 08, 2013 @05:24PM (#45373077) Homepage

    How is this any worse for the small bookstores than their customers buying a Kindle from some other retailer, or direct from amazon.com? They'd still be browsing in the store, checking online prices, buying the e-books, and eventually ceasing to be a customer. The bookstore would simply have deprived itself of an opportunity to be the one selling the Kindles and getting a cut of e-book revenues in the meantime.

    Do these bookstores really think that refusing to sell the devices themselves will slow adoption?

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday November 08, 2013 @05:35PM (#45373139)

      Amazon is offering an option. Don't like it? Don't play. However Amazon isn't going away, they aren't going to stop selling eBooks (or physical books). So plan accordingly. If you think not partnering with them is best do that, if you think it is best, do that. But don't assume you can cry and they'll go away. You WILL have to deal with their competition.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Friday November 08, 2013 @05:51PM (#45373253) Homepage Journal

      I'm kind of interested in the bookstores I know of that are not going under because of Amazon. At least here in Chicago, the independent booksellers I frequent appear to be doing very well, especially now that the Borders and B&N and other chain bookstores have all but disappeared.

      I don't see that they've changed their business model much with the rise of e-books, yet they are still busy, filled with customers, and in once case, even expanding.

      If you treat customers right, I think there's still room for booksellers to succeed. Don't compete on price - compete on service.

      • by Nemyst (1383049) on Friday November 08, 2013 @09:07PM (#45374563) Homepage
        This. The greatest example, I find, is with recommendations: try as they might, Amazon's recommendations are still very often inaccurate, backwards-looking (I already bought this thing, I don't want a hundred suggestions of other things exactly like it!) and very sensitive to trends. Your local bookstore, however, might have someone who knows just what you usually like and comes up with a few new books every so often when you pass by. They know you personally, they know your preferences and they actually read the stuff they sell. It's a more personal and customized experience which a blank, faceless website just cannot match.

        Yes, it does mean bookstores need to do more work to encourage and nurture a certain feel of community, actually talking with customers and engaging with them, but... That's a good thing. We need more of that and fewer standardized, giant corporation-driven stores.
        • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday November 08, 2013 @10:26PM (#45374951) Homepage Journal

          That is one of the humorous sides of advertising online. I needed a part for my motorcycle. The original lasted for more than thirty years, but rubber compounds do age - so I made a purchase. For three weeks now, every place that advertising isn't blocked entirely, Google manages to slip an advert for the same or similar parts for motorcycles. DUHHH - the part I bought will probably last longer than I will now! I won't be needing another, unless I buy another 30 year old bike to add to my stable!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

      It could be better. If Amazon were serious about it (and I think it would be in their interest to be serious about it), they could set up a kiosk in these bookstores that would keep cached copies of as much of the Kindle library as possible on a local server, and have some Kindles set up to use them, and allow people to browse the Kindle books in their entirety in the store - just like a real book. This would drive people to the stores for a better eBook-buying experience (where they can buy other stuff a

      • by Skreems (598317)
        Mentioned in some other stories is the fact that a lot of this program was tried first at the Waterstone's chain in the UK. In those stores, they sell Kindle devices, and customers can also bring in any Kindle (bought there or not) and read just about any book on Amazon for free for an hour while connected to the store's wi-fi.

        The "selling Kindle devices" part made it to the US, so it seems reasonable that the other bit isn't far behind.
    • by Uberbah (647458)

      It's bad enough if someone else is slitting your throat - why do it for them?

    • "Do these bookstores really think that refusing to sell the devices themselves will slow adoption?"

      Apparently Amazon does, or they wouldn't be offering to cut them in for a slice of the action.
    • by mbkennel (97636)
      |Do these bookstores really think that refusing to sell the devices themselves will slow adoption?

      Of their regular customers? You betcha.

      Just reminding them about their competitors' product isn't a good idea.
    • So when the Grim Reaper comes for you, you'll offer to hold his cloak for him so that he has both hands free for the scythe, right?

  • At peak, Blockbuster alone had 9,000 video rental stores. The last day to rent a video from Blockbuster is tomorrow. All the stores are closing. When will the last DVD/Blu-Ray disk be made?

    Bookstores are following the trend of video stores, about ten years behind. Borders went bust two years ago. Barnes and Noble is the last big chain. Soon, no more chain bookstores. Then, no more bookstores. Then, no more printed books.

    • The last disc won't be for a long, long time. Too many people like to collect them. It'll be years before they are totally superseded by digital downloads.

      • I am not so sure about that. If I had to guess I would say between 5 to 10 years.

        Blue-ray has never taken off and DVD sales are falling. A large chunk of that is because people are switching from building their own personal DVD library to rent (i.e. NetFlix) or streaming. Renting implies a more efficient method of DVD ownership so that puts a floor under that until people switch to totally digital.

        And I think that will happen when 4k TV takes off. I don’t hear anybody talking about shipping physical m

        • by Algae_94 (2017070) on Friday November 08, 2013 @06:12PM (#45373397) Journal

          And I think that will happen when 4k TV takes off. I don’t hear anybody talking about shipping physical media for that format.

          No way will this work. Bandwidth caps as they are today will prevent people from downloading 4k video. Here's a reference to a 4k documentary [gizmodo.com] that is 160GB. Does that sound like something that's going to fly with the ISPs we currently have?

          • It is an open question but yes, I do think it will be via ISP. Right now the only way you can get 4k movies is via digital download. Now it is still the early days so only a little weight there.

            Bandwidth is an issue and you have to start loading the thing in advance. Reminds of the early days of the internet. Who knows but maybe 4k is the killer application that will get everybody to buy fiber. I don’t know anybody who has had cap issues with the physical land line ISP but I am dealing with a small s

          • by hawguy (1600213)

            And I think that will happen when 4k TV takes off. I don’t hear anybody talking about shipping physical media for that format.

            No way will this work. Bandwidth caps as they are today will prevent people from downloading 4k video. Here's a reference to a 4k documentary [gizmodo.com] that is 160GB. Does that sound like something that's going to fly with the ISPs we currently have?

            4K has only 4X more pixels than 1080p. Netflix says [netflix.com] that currently, you need a 5mbit connection for Hidef streaming, or 7mbit for super hidef. So that would put 4K streaming at around 20 - 28mbit... maybe less if better graphics hardware means they can use better compression algorithms. Many people are already able to get that speed from a Cable modem or U-verse style DSL.

            Bandwidth caps are a business limitation, not a physical restriction. I'm sure there are bottlenecks that providers will have to overcome

            • by vux984 (928602)

              4K has only 4X more pixels than 1080p. Netflix says that currently, you need a 5mbit connection for Hidef streaming, or 7mbit for super hidef.

              Netflix is lying to you. Their hidef isn't blu-ray quality. Its 1080p with compression artifacts. The audio isn't as good either.

              Its better than then the regular hd which is even more compressed, and even that is better than some of the so called hd channels on cable some of which are badly compressed.

              Compared to bluray though its a complete joke.

              It's good enough, an

              • by hawguy (1600213)

                4K has only 4X more pixels than 1080p. Netflix says that currently, you need a 5mbit connection for Hidef streaming, or 7mbit for super hidef.

                Netflix is lying to you. Their hidef isn't blu-ray quality. Its 1080p with compression artifacts. The audio isn't as good either.

                I don't think they ever said that it *is* Blu-ray quality, but the point is, it's "good enough". I own dozens of Blurays and while I can see a different because blu-ray and streaming content, it just isn't that important to me.

                Its better than then the regular hd which is even more compressed, and even that is better than some of the so called hd channels on cable some of which are badly compressed.

                Compared to bluray though its a complete joke.

                It's good enough, and there are only a handful of titles I would even care enough to pay extra for bluray, never mind "4k" but at the same time what's the point drooling over a netflix compressed 4k stream if their superHD is still well beneath even mere bluray 1080p.

                Because it has 4x more pixels, which I thought was the whole point of 4K? If I'm happy with my 60" TV when I sit 8 feet away, if I had a 4K TV, then either I can sit at half the distance (4 ft), or get a TV that's twice as large (120") and get a more immersive movie experience with t

                • by vux984 (928602)

                  Because it has 4x more pixels, which I thought was the whole point of 4K?

                  But if they aren't streaming uncompressed 1080p adding more pixels for them to extrapolate into isn't going to make a difference.

                  netflix hd is like playing a game designed for 1024x768 on 1920x1080 screen. Buying a screen that's 4k isn't going to make it look any better.

                  • by hawguy (1600213)

                    Because it has 4x more pixels, which I thought was the whole point of 4K?

                    But if they aren't streaming uncompressed 1080p adding more pixels for them to extrapolate into isn't going to make a difference.

                    netflix hd is like playing a game designed for 1024x768 on 1920x1080 screen. Buying a screen that's 4k isn't going to make it look any better.

                    Where are you getting uncompressed 1080p content? An uncompressed 1080p 60Hz stream would be about 3Gbit/sec [wikipedia.org]

                    You do know that even Bluray video is compressed, right?

                    Why would a 4K stream compressed to 20mbit/second not be better quality than a 1080p stream compressed to 5mbit/second?

                    • by vux984 (928602)

                      You do know that even Bluray video is compressed, right?

                      Yes, uncompressed, wasn't the right word to use. "not over compressed" is probably more appropriate.

                      Why would a 4K stream compressed to 20mbit/second not be better quality than a 1080p stream compressed to 5mbit/second?

                      I'm sure it would be better.

                      But the relevant question is whether it would really any better than a 1080p stream compressed to 20mbit.

          • by Kjella (173770)

            No way will this work. Bandwidth caps as they are today will prevent people from downloading 4k video.

            They said the same thing about YouTube and Netflix, but when the mainstream starts using a service the caps tend to adjust. Granted I'm not in the US but in Norway however YoY bandwidth growth here is 25% and with H.265 promising the same quality at half the bandwidth the transition from 1080p to 4K is about three years of technological advance. Personally I suspect the bandwidth will arrive far ahead of TVs and content to watch, there's a massive fiber deployment and speeds are constantly upgraded as it se

        • by Animats (122034)

          And I think that will happen when 4k TV takes off. I donâ(TM)t hear anybody talking about shipping physical media for that format.

          That's going to be a real problem. You'll need 130Mb/sec to do a good job. (If you're going to play lower-res video, why have a 2K x 4K display?)

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        The last disc won't be for a long, long time. Too many people like to collect them. It'll be years before they are totally superseded by digital downloads.

        Plus, the movie studios will want to wring every last cent out of DVD sales before they move to a pure digital distribution model.

        Movie streaming catalogs (even pay per view like Amazon) have a long way to go before they will be as complete as DVD catalogs.

    • by wcrowe (94389)

      I think Barnes and Noble have pretty much already gone bust. Have you been in one lately? All they have is a big Nook section surrounded by puzzles, games, greeting cards and other knick-knacks -- hardly any books at all.

      • The healthy part of BN, Nook & College bookstores, has been hived off to Microsoft.

        The physical stores are doing less well. Last I heard the online bookstore was being run by Amazon but that was a few years ago.

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      At peak, Blockbuster alone had 9,000 video rental stores.
      The last day to rent a video from Blockbuster is tomorrow. All the stores are closing. When will the last DVD/Blu-Ray disk be made?

      Digital download/streaming videos still doesn't match the video/audio quality of a blu-ray, and wont for a long, long time (in the United States at least) because Internet service wont be fast enough/offer high enough caps to make that kind of product practical for long, long time.

      A book is a static image. If you don't have a fetish over paper and binding the experience can be reproduced much more easily.

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        At peak, Blockbuster alone had 9,000 video rental stores.
        The last day to rent a video from Blockbuster is tomorrow. All the stores are closing. When will the last DVD/Blu-Ray disk be made?

        Digital download/streaming videos still doesn't match the video/audio quality of a blu-ray, and wont for a long, long time (in the United States at least) because Internet service wont be fast enough/offer high enough caps to make that kind of product practical for long, long time.

        A book is a static image. If you don't have a fetish over paper and binding the experience can be reproduced much more easily.

        Likewise, if you don't have a fetish for the utmost in picture quality,existing hidef video streaming is already "good enough" for the majority of people.

      • Digital download/streaming videos still doesn't match the video/audio quality of a blu-ray, and wont for a long, long time

        You know, I think this is a matter of personal taste. I couldn't care less about video quality, within reason. I have absolutely no desire to try to have a movie theatre in my home. Then again, I don't watch a lot of movies or TV. For audio, I'm a little more picky.

        A book is a static image. If you don't have a fetish over paper and binding the experience can be reproduced much more easily.

        While you're correct that it would now be pretty easy to replicate the experience of a high-quality printed book, nobody is really doing it. If only I could buy a "static image" of a decently designed book, I'd be happy. But most "ebooks" a

    • I used to spend days in the library, but lately all the information I want is easily accessible online, wikipedia or google. I haven't been to the library in years. What's it been now, 5 years? 7? I don't even remember. For all I know, it may have been demolished since then. I would guess that soon they all will be.

      • Our libray system just built an entire commercial/residential complex above/around the new library on one side of town. They did the same 15-odd years ago for the other side of town. And there's talk of expanding or opening another branch.

        They've also expanded beyond just books, offering CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, and even e-book loans. There are multiple computer labs available for rent (free for individuals if room not in use), multiple computer terminals around the library for patrons to use, study carrels, me

        • by CRCulver (715279)
          All that new infrastructure and space isn't cheap. Unfortunately, only affluent areas can offer your vision of libraries of the future. Back in the pre-internet area, when print was king, even poorer communities could provide a reasonable standard of information to citizens. As it is playing out, wealthier areas are getting what you describe, and poorer areas are ending up with nothing at all.
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Just another reason to work on that last mile problem. Why have physical libraries when people have portable devices that will read books? You can get a tablet for a bill, it doesn't take too many trips to the library before that's paid for itself

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08, 2013 @05:28PM (#45373095)

    Meg Ryan falls in love with Jeff Bezos at the end.

  • I'm firmly in camp ebook. Let's disclose that up front.

    Book stores should charge cover. The experience of browsing in a book store is much better than browsing Amazon's web site. The tablet kindle store is better but it still doesn't compare to browsing on a shelf, reading a page on a whim. So when it's time to find something new to read, I'll go spend an hour in Barnes & Noble and make a list of a dozen books. I'll probably buy a coffee while there, but otherwise B&N is making nothing off me.

    That's not fair to them, but that is how their business is structured. I fear bookstores collapsing. I preferred Borders and was disappointed when it went under. Don't want that to happen to B&N. But what answer is there? There are only a handful of reference-type paper books I would buy. Might get a calendar once a year. Couple presents. But Amazon gets most of my book dollars. That's just sad reality.

    So, I say, charge me cover. Heck, charge everybody cover. $2 to come in. If you buy a book, offer a $2 discount. The bookstore is suddenly less disadvantaged then previously. If you are a paper book buyer, you're not disadvantaged. If you really are a paper book buyer and are simply browsing, suddenly, you're the party suffering. But you're incidental to this- if bookstores are in trouble, you're going to lose them eventually. So you have the heavy burden of paying a couple dollars, or you can browse at a library instead.

    The small bookstores TFA discusses aren't necessarily the same as B&N - but that's the problem. They have even less to offer. Stocking Kindles may not be the answer, but they're getting squeezed by both Amazon and B&N. They need to find a niche compatible with their clients to survive.

    • by DrEasy (559739)
      I think that's a great idea. The ability to browse physical books in a nice environment is a service that I'm willing to pay for.
    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      That's a terrible idea. Few people will be willing to pay to enter a store, which would instantly kill a significant proportion of their audience. This would make their stores look and feel empty, further driving home the idea that "bookstores are dying". They'd get reduced to a core audience (which would've stuck around regardless of this entry fee) which would be largely unsustainable for most bookstores.

      I don't claim to know the solution, but gating your store is perhaps the worst possible way around i
  • I read that first as "kidneys" and I'm thinking, "ya, they'd probably see some repercussions from that."

    As for the actual, much less serious issue, I don't know about the bookstores' reservations. The people you're luring into the store are obviously interested in touching a Kindle before buying it and/or want it right now instead of tomorrow or next week on their doorstep. I'd think this overlaps with the population who'd see a physical book they wanted and also decide to buy it right now instead of orderi

  • by Ichijo (607641) on Friday November 08, 2013 @05:45PM (#45373199) Homepage Journal

    If bookstores want to stay in business, they need to level the playing field. Requiring sales taxes on internet purchases was a good start, but only a start. For example, Amazon isn't forced by the cities to overbuild its parking lots as brick & mortar bookstores are.

    Bookstores also need to adopt Amazon's business model. Amazon has low storage costs (warehouses in rural areas) but has to ship individual packages to each customer, while bookstores have high storage costs but ship everything to the store by freight. Bookstores could downsize their physical presence, keep most of their inventory in inexpensive rural warehouses like Amazon, and offer free overnight or 2-day shipping to the store, no membership required.

    So there's still room for innovation, if bookstores are willing to learn from the competition.

    • by dcollins (135727)

      "Bookstores could downsize their physical presence, keep most of their inventory in inexpensive rural warehouses like Amazon, and offer free overnight or 2-day shipping to the store, no membership required."

      So I get to travel to the store twice and not even view the product in the meantime? I guess?

      • by Ichijo (607641)

        If it's at the store, you could just buy it there.

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          If it's at the store, you could just buy it there.

          Except it won't be at the store, it will be in a remote warehouse. So there's no incentive to go to the store rather than buy from Amazon.

          • by Ichijo (607641)

            Bookstores could downsize their physical presence, keep most of their inventory in inexpensive rural warehouses...

            (emphasis added)

            • by hawguy (1600213)

              Bookstores could downsize their physical presence, keep most of their inventory in inexpensive rural warehouses...

              (emphasis added)

              Oh, so only most of the books I want to buy are at the warehouse. I'll just stay at home and buy from amazon if the store is going to negate the only advantage they have by keeping most of the books I want to see and buy in their warehouse

              • by Ichijo (607641)

                Bookstores could downsize their physical presence, keep most of their inventory in inexpensive rural warehouses...

                (emphasis added)

                Because you don't need to see two copies of the same title.

    • by Aboroth (1841308)
      I see what you're getting at. We should all write our congressmen to force Amazon to build parking lots.
  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Friday November 08, 2013 @06:08PM (#45373363) Homepage

    Customers are increasingly looking for ebook editions. If the customer can't get what they're looking for, do you think they're just going to shrug and buy whatever the bookstore wants to stock instead? Nope. They'll shrug, go home and buy the Kindle off of Amazon's Web site and go ahead and buy the ebook editions like they were planning to. Either way, the bookstore's lost their business because the bookstore isn't selling what the customer wants to buy.

    Bookstores are going to have to figure out a way around this, or go out of business. No third option. If I owned a bookstore I'd be seriously looking at how I could work with Amazon and the Kindle store. The big attraction of bookstores has always been that customers can look at the books before buying, but Amazon can do that through their Web site with previews. The other big attraction has been bookstores with knowledgeable staff who can help customers select books. That, though, means the bookstore can't hire college kids for minimum wage to run the register. It might take a complete shift, from "bookstore as a place to buy books" to "bookstore as a place to browse and discuss books". Kind of like a coffee shop with a better reading library. It may be that there isn't a way for bookstores to remain in business without ceasing to be bookstores. But bookstores are going to have to accept the fact that electronic delivery of books has irrevocably changed their business.

    I'd note this may go for publishers too. It's hard to get into print unless you're already a successful published author. The only route is self-publishing through Kindle or the like. But if an author's successful enough through that route to attract a conventional publisher, what's going to happen when that author very reasonably asks what they need a publisher for at this point?

  • by jamesl (106902) on Friday November 08, 2013 @06:20PM (#45373457)

    ... or would you rather be shot.

    We make a little on their e-book purchases, but then lose them as a customer completely after two years.

    The way things are going now, they're going to be out of business in two years anyway. Maybe they can hang out with the guy that had the hardware store before Home Depot came to town. Or the people with the health food store before Whole Foods. Or the stationary store before Office Max. Or the printer before Kinko's. Or the computer store before Dell.
     

    • by celle (906675)

      "they can hang out with the guy that had the hardware store before Home Depot came to town. Or the people with the health food store before Whole Foods. Or the stationary store before Office Max. Or the printer before Kinko's. Or the computer store before Dell."

      Believe it or not, all those are still around here in the middle of the United States. Many are doing business the way all small businesses do for communities by providing valuable services that people want and/or need ri

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Friday November 08, 2013 @06:38PM (#45373583)

    I get the model where you go into BestBuy, look at the TV, listen to the stereo and then purchase online.

    But what does browsing for the book on the shelves get you over searching Amazon.com? You still get the same 'about the author' and plot taglines on the back...

    Maybe there's some nostalgia that people enjoy walking through the stacks and prefer to read via eReader. For those people, the bookstore will die anyhow because no purchase will ever be made via the bookstore.

    These bookstores need differentiate themselves from eReader providers just like movie theaters differentiate themselves from watching at home and Netflix. Movie theaters provide a service you don't have at home (a 100ft screen and a huge wattage sound system, and stadium seating).

    Bookstores need something as well, book clubs (how do you keep people from joining the club that purchased the book via amazon), social gatherings, something...

    All of these businesses died because the physical location couldn't differentiate itself from the delivered direct to home version:

    *Arcades
    *Video Rental shops
    *Computer stores (CompUSA etc..)
    *Bookstores

    • by captjc (453680)

      But what does browsing for the book on the shelves get you over searching Amazon.com? You still get the same 'about the author' and plot taglines on the back...

      Well, for starters, most books aren't shrink-wrapped. I can pick it up, leaf through it, and start reading to see if it hooks me. Sure some of Amazon's books give a sample chapter maybe even a "Take me to a random page" function but it isn't the same as holding it in your hand.

    • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Friday November 08, 2013 @09:09PM (#45374569)

      But what does browsing for the book on the shelves get you over searching Amazon.com?

      Well, um... you, uh, get the see the book???

      Seriously. I buy almost all non-fiction books, and 2-3 minutes leafing through the book, looking up a few things in the index, and reading a couple specific passages on topics I'm looking for will immediately tell me: (1) does the book contain the information I need and care about? (2) does the author have a freakin' clue what he/she is talking about? (3) are these things valuable enough to justify the cost?

      I can spend time skimming dozens of reviews on Amazon and still have no clue about the answers to those questions. Sure, for some books on Amazon I can get a limited preview or limited search capability, but that's generally not enough to really let me check what I need to.

      I own a couple thousand physical books. I can only think of ONE physical book that I purchased in an actual store that I regret buying, and I was in a hurry and just picked up some Barnes & Noble special for $1.99 or something. On the other hand, I must have at least 20 or more books I purchased online that turned out to be much less useful than I imagined. I just can't tell adequately from online descriptions. And returning them is often too much of a pain to bother.

      On a related note, there's also the seredipitous encounter with interesting books on a physical shelf. While Amazon may be good at telling me what other people tend to buy who buy the books I'm already searching for, it's very unlikely to tell me about the really cool books out there that people like me may not always know about. Library shelves, on the other hand, are great for containing those hidden treasures, sitting there right next to a book I know on a similar topic. Actual physical bookstores can be good about that as well, though only if they have the kind of specialized non-fiction I like to browse for (and very few do anymore).

      I'm very likely to walk out of a physical bookstore with some book I found and thought to be really interesting, and I almost never regret those purchases. Online, I only tend to buy books I already have heard about and which already are supposed to be "good," because I often can't adequately evaluate them otherwise.

      Used bookstores are even more critical, because they carry all sorts of out-of-print stuff that's even more difficult to sort through on Amazon (if it's there at all).

      You still get the same 'about the author' and plot taglines on the back...

      I don't give a crap about the author bio or what some random other people say about how this is the "coolest book ever." I suppose if that's the way you evaluate the books you want to buy, I guess there's no benefit to a physical bookstore. I, personally, prefer to actually examine the merchandise... like the people you mention who might actually like to look at the TV or listen to the stereo before purchasing.

  • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Friday November 08, 2013 @07:12PM (#45373817)

    Isn't this the plan where the store that sells the Kindle gets a cut of all purchases made thru said Kindle? So that kickback expires after two years. Sell them a new kindle and reset the kickback clock. There's always a new reader coming out with new features, more storage, better display, etc.

    This reminds me of that thread a year or three back where it was pointed out that book publishers need to realize that they're in the business of selling content, not paper. Paper is a content delivery/storage/display method. Kindle is the new paper in this scenario.

    Paper books had a pretty good run. Over 500 years by my math. Now the business model is changing. Bookstores can find a way to change with it or they can bleed money until they go bankrupt. Their stubbornness isn't going to change reality. If they want to keep selling paper, they need to shift their physical inventory to publications that can't easily make the transition to electronic distribution. Large format books with lots of pictures. Art, atlases, photos, etc. Take the leftover space and stock it with readers (only from companies that will give you a kickback) and accessories. Put in a coffee/tea counter, comfy chairs, fireplace, etc. Fast WiFi, charging stations for devices. Have "meet the author" nights and "get the most out of your reader" nights.

    • I think the one other feature of paper that they can sell, along with paper's quality as a medium for pictures, is the attractiveness of paper itself. Do good market research, determine what books people have an emotional attachment to, and sell those books in premium-priced, durable, beautiful, hardback editions. Don't try to compete with ebooks on cheap content delivery. People still buy vinyl records, designer clothes, luxury cars, and fancy hand soaps. People will pay a premium for a special version

  • Sorry, I'm just not going to buy ebooks until they fix the pricing. When the role playing game industry went to direct digital distribution, it was understood that the product was 50% off. Amazon, however, thinks that not only do I need to shell out a couple hundred dollars for a proprietary device that allows them to remote delete my purchased products, but that they also get to charge a premium for the product itself. No thank you.

    If I buy a used book through Amazon, odds are that I can find it for under

  • You're going to lose the customer anyway because you're selling an obsolete item, something that joins expensive fountain pens, handmade suits, and buggy whips as items that once used to be commonplace but now are only used by elites with too much money.

  • "We acknowledge that our customers will move completely to e-books once they get used to the idea and find out they can save money."

Science and religion are in full accord but science and faith are in complete discord.

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