I decided to use WordPress.com’s new audio post feature to record an unscripted review of Battles Fought On Irish Soil: A Complete Account. The result is below. There is a longer text version of the same which I wrote some time ago over @ The Irish Story.
I’m not sure I agree, but I’m also not sure if this is necessarily a bad thing per say. Maybe it will increase readership and reduce overheads!
As readers shift to digital, the economics of book shops will become skewed, favouring online emporia. Booksellers can react by hand-selling to customers and making themselves relevant, in the way that Raven Books in Blackrock, Co Dublin, has. (I am increasingly sure of finding a pile of relevant books there every time I walk in). No doubt this will mean concentrating on older, out-of-print, and second-hand books, titles that appeal directly to the customer, and print-on-demand works (though I am less convinced of the economic case for this).
Whatever way you look at it, as a big book-buyer I should be a chain store’s best customer. Instead, like many avid readers, I’m what’s killing them.
Then today I read an interview with Luke Johnson who ran Borders for a time. this is what he said:
I bought Borders thinking we could turn it around. I believed wrongly we could reverse the downturn in high street book sales. It’s a great sadness that we couldn’t. In my opinion, the high street book store is doomed.
He did say, that there was hope for stores like Watersones and that:
Publishers I’ve spoken to agree that the one-size-fits-all bookstore doesn’t have a future. But there is still room for independents that know their customers.
I agree the local independent have a chance. But the utterly depressing reality is that at least in the UK and Ireland, big high street stores are in trouble. Eason remains dominant here and may well gain some advantage from that, especially as supermarkets have been slower to take big steps into books (though Tesco is having an impact) but the slide is inevitable.
It contrasts fairly remarkably with the confidence of Barnes & Noble as pointed to in the last post.
One point that struck me yesterday was Waterstone’s belief in the power of ebook sales to drive their growth in their press release they said they had and ‘Excellent start for e-books at waterstones.com, approaching one million downloads.’
That makes two major booksellers on different sides of the water with hope of decent sales of ebooks. Interesting news I think anyway. perhaps if they can peel some of the sales away from Amazon in print, drive for sales in ebooks and slowly but surely wind down their bricks and mortar stores, they can avoid the downfall scenario I had originally envision and emerge as slimmer chains selling mostly virtually.
I’ve been doing some fascinating reading the last few week and thought I’d share the ones that stuck with me. You may have noticed a few reblogs appearing in the stream. I’ve been using WordPress’s reblog button and loving it very much! These are non-reblogged though. Also impressed by their much improved tag pages. Like this one, for books.
An excellent open letter by Brian O’Leary to Scott Turrow about piracy, data and good and bad decision making.
A very fine article over at Slate (Thanks to SarahB for the tip) on ebooks and paper and why one will not replace the other. Agree or disagree, the writing is solid.
James Long over on Speculative Horizons has a great list of four upcoming titles by four of my favourite fantasy writers.
Smashing line for literature at the Kilkenny Arts Festival this year.
Philip Jones points to the clash in perception of the future for books in the digital age between Jeff Bezoz and Hachette UK’s George Walkley. Nicely done too.
With the Russian spying scandal in the US, Yale University Press talks spies! Well worth the read and considering a new book purchase too.
Despite a tough market, Barnes & Noble have been very upbeat about the future in terms of digital and print sales. I hope they are right.
The summer seems to be rolling in this year (when does it not), but at least it’s been a good one so far!