Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bookseller to Bookseller- E Books

Hi all- first off let me apologize for the different fonts..I can't seem to make it all the same font. It's driving me crazy but the content is the same so I will leave it be.
John and I decided we wanted to have a discussion about e books, how they effect both independent and chain bookstores. Please comment, we would love to hear your take on things as well. So don't be shy.

How have e books effected you, working in an independent bookstore?

J-I think we're in a really unique situation. Most of the customers that come into our store aren't just readers, they're book lovers. They love the look and feel of a book, and appreciate how a good cover looks. Because of that, we haven't seen much of an impact. Customers come in all the time and ask how the e-readers are affecting our business, and then profess their love for a physical book.

S-it's funny that's what I find in general, customers still wanting to have books. I know I do. But recently I borrowed a Nook(B&N e-reader) from work and I love it for certain situations. I still want books. But when I am riding the bus to work and waiting for the bus I love the ease of an e reader.

Do you think this will lead to the demise of the independent bookstore. Do you think specialty bookstores will survive?

J-I think, if anything, independent stores are going to have a chance to thrive again. Buying books from a website can be intimidating, it's also cold. There's something about being able to browse in a bookstore and get recommendations from staff members. That's something the independents have always been able to do well, and that's going to help them in the long run. While everyone else is scrambling to keep up with the new technology, sticking to what we know best just might be the thing to help the independents.

S- yes exactly. I think all the major chain jockeying is turning people off to them. When I go to a bookstore I want books..not games, toys and all kinds of junk. I enjoy book bags, tshirts and maybe a few journals, but the chains are bordering on department stores. We actually have shoes in the kids dept!!!!

Do you have an e-reader?

S- no, but as stated above I think I might want one. I noticed that I read faster on an ereader because I can read anywhere, easily.
I could never give up books. I am a book whore. Plus I love getting books signed. One thing about an e-reader is that it's very impersonal.
Not sure I am ready for that aspect.

J - I don't. I've played around a few of them, but haven't had much experience with them yet. The one I've used the most was the iPad, and the experience just isn't the same for me. If I traveled more or was limited on storage space I could see wanting an e-reader. I joke that if someone wanted to give me an e-reader I would probably find a use for it, but I'm not there yet either.

Do you think the chains are doing a good job of trying to adapt to e-books?

S- they are trying. I feel there is too much jockeying between the major chains. Set your prices and go with it. But no! One slashes their prices then the other has to. It's very high school and honestly form what I deal with daily, it confuses the customers. They don't know who to choose or why.

J - I left Borders before they had actively started trying to grab a piece of the market. I've been surprised at how proactive they have been. I don't remember the music industry being to proactive in trying to adapt, so it makes me hopefully about the longevity of the chains.

S-I agree. I think chain stores are necessary..Some people will not go to a bookstore unless it's attached to a mall. So there is a place for chains too..what do you think about that?

J - Chains stores are necessary. We're lucky to have a very devoted customer base, but don't have a lot of walk in customers. Chains thrive on walk in business. I think it's important to the publishing industry that the chains stick around. If the industry is going to stick around, it's going to need the chains moving books too. Specialty stores like the one I work in are great, but there's also something to be said about being to walk into a chain store and find a ton of books on a wide variety of subject. There are many communities where that mall bookstore is the only one in the city.

Hey I am going to do the intro and stuff tonight..Take one last look and see if you want to add anything..

I have seen some of the predictions of how big a piece of the market e-books are. When a new book releases(a mid list author) how big do you think their e book sales are? Do you think print is still larger?

J - I can't imagine the percentage is that high for mid list authors. E-books are still priced pretty close to traditional print books, so there's not a huge incentive to buy them. I'm sure the majority of e-books sold are back list titles that have special pricing, or the biggest, newest bestseller that everyone wants. I don't think that e-books are going to destroy the publishing industry like everyone thinks they will. I really think that there will be a place for e-books. It won't be as bad as traditional publishers think it will be, and I don't think it's going to be as great as e-book retailers hope it will be. I think it'll fall somewhere between the two.

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