Could Barnes & Noble Go the Way of Borders?

The book store’s last stand

By JULIE BOSMAN, The New York Times
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 9:46 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 9:46 a.m.

Page 2 of 7

No one expects Barnes & Noble to disappear overnight. The worry is that it might slowly wither as more readers embrace e-books. What if all those store shelves vanished, and Barnes & Noble became little more than a cafe and a digital connection point? Such fears came to the fore in early January, when the company projected that it would lose even more money this year than Wall Street had expected. Its share price promptly tumbled 17 percent that day.

Lurking behind all of this is Amazon.com, the dominant force in books online and the company that sets teeth on edge in publishing. From their perches in Midtown Manhattan, many publishing executives, editors and publicists view Amazon as the enemy — an adversary that, if unchecked, could threaten their industry and their livelihoods.

Like many struggling businesses, book publishers are cutting costs and trimming work forces. Yes, electronic books are booming, sometimes profitably, but not many publishers want e-books to dominate print books. Amazon’s chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, wants to cut out the middleman — that is, traditional publishers — by publishing e-books directly.

Which is why Barnes & Noble, once viewed as the brutal capitalist of the book trade, now seems so crucial to that industry’s future. Sure, you can buy bestsellers at Walmart and potboilers at the supermarket. But in many locales, Barnes & Noble is the only retailer offering a wide selection of books. If something were to happen to Barnes & Noble, if it were merely to scale back its ambitions, Amazon could become even more powerful and — well, the very thought makes publishers queasy.

“It would be like ‘The Road,’ ” one publishing executive in New York said, half-jokingly, referring to the Cormac McCarthy novel. “The post-apocalyptic world of publishing, with publishers pushing shopping carts down Broadway.”

To read the complete article (and it is well worth the time), go to http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20120129/ARTICLE/120129451?p=1&tc=pg

About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and historical romantic suspense.
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4 Responses to Could Barnes & Noble Go the Way of Borders?

  1. Janice says:

    I love to hold a book in my hands. I love the smell of a new book! I cannot get into the excitement of e books. I love to walk through a book store and when I was younger I wanted to own a small bookstore. All this comes from my love of reading. I hope printed books never go away.

    • Janice, when I was still teaching school, we had a video that went along with the literature anthology. It featured Ray Bradbury. He told how he wrote his first novel on a typewriter in the public library – the kind where a person had to insert a dime for a time period on the typewriter. Then, he spoke of how books smelled good. My students didn’t get it. They thought he spoke of the glue. It is the glue, but it’s the smell of paper and ink and the writer’s passion. Personally, I could live in a library or a bookstore. In many ways, I’m very much like Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.

  2. Sophia Rose says:

    I don’t think everyone is as ready to give up their hard copies as it seems including many young people. Most people want both or just hard copy books that I have noticed. I think B&N and BAM refusing to sell certain publisher’s books that are associated with Amazon is only hurting themselves. I was never a huge B&N fan and mourned when my Borders closed. The closest book store is almost an hour away now. There are a few indie bookstores even further away. So for those who live near me, the distance will be the factor for supporting on line sellers.
    I appreciate reading about what people are thinking. Thanks!

    • B&N has been very good about pushing my books, and for that, I’m thankful. However, the “atmosphere” changed some 8-12 months ago. They are not “author friendly” any longer.

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