Quick Link | Bye, Bye, Borders? – Megan McArdle – Business – The Atlantic

It remains my view, as I have written before, that closure of bookshops will mean that the very good one (and the lucky) will survive. Borders will be missed if it goes, of that there is no doubt, but because it goes, some independents will survive.

This is when the communitarians start looking for a government rule that will make it harder for people to buy books online; the environmentalists complain about all the energy wasted on shipping; and the moderate nostalgists start urging people to support their local bookstore.  But I’ll go by a combination of revealed preference and introspection:  the world may be better off without Borders, even though I (and everyone else who has stopped shopping there) likes the idea of its existence.

The communitarians will argue that this is market triumphalism–that losing bookstores we like is simply a collective action problem. This is theoretically possible, but there’s little evidence of it outside of thought experiments.  After all, if I could personally save Borders by hauling my carcass down to the store once a week, instead of shopping at Amazon, would I?  The sad answer is, probably not.  After all, I never go there.  What would I be saving it for?

And it’s not just that I’m lazy, though there is that.  The bigger problem is that while Borders lets me find things I’m not looking for, Amazon always lets me find the things that I am.  In the good old days of local bookstores, I frequently went without books that I knew I wanted, because it was such a pain in the butt to order them.  Now if I know I want to read a book, I can do so in short order.  Ultimately, this is a bigger boon than the occasional undiscovered gem–particularly since there are still libraries.

via Bye, Bye, Borders? – Megan McArdle – Business – The Atlantic.

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3 comments

  1. I like the idea that the very best of the bookshops will survive. But even the best will have to get better & better – more & more special (not specialist).

    The bookshop of the future will fight hard to remain a place that people love to spend time in.

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