Sunday, October 18, 2009

As e-readers launch, is it the last chapter for bookshops?
October 16, 2009 By George MacDonald writing in Retail Week.

As Amazon prepares for the international launch of its Kindle e-reader next week, George MacDonald asks if it will bring about bookshops’ demise, or if the world of print will prove resilient

Independent book shops have already suffered at the hands of Amazon – will they survive the arrival of its Kindle e-reader?
On Tuesday, bookseller Waterstone’s celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Piccadilly store, the biggest bookshop in Europe.
As the retailer’s management clinked celebratory glasses with guests such as bestselling authors Joanna Trollope, Margaret Drabble and Charlie Higson, the conversation was likely to have touched upon what may be another red letter day for bookselling: the launch this Monday of Amazon’s Kindle electronic book reader.
Amazon has already revolutionised bookselling once in its short existence. Is it about to do so yet again with the international debut of Kindle, which is seen by some as a potential “iPod moment” for the market?
Originally launched in the US in November 2007, Amazon expects sales of Kindle to pass the 1 million mark by the end of this year. The wireless device — which must be bought through Amazon’s US website for the time being — will enable UK customers to download books in less than a minute using 3G technology.
Shoppers here will have access to about 280,000 books as well as some international newspapers and magazines. However, on top of the $279 (£176) cost, UK consumers will pay more than their US counterparts in for books - $13.99 (£8.80) rather than $9.99 (£6.30) - as a result of Amazon’s higher operating costs outside its domestic market.

Over the past decade developments such as the rise of etail and the incursions of the big grocers into bookselling have spelled the end for many independent bookshops. Chain bookselling has also been transformed as famous names such as Dillons and Ottakar’s were snapped up by Waterstone’s - now the undisputed specialist market leader on the high street. Does the rise of ebooks and e-readers mean that the bookshop is dead?No, is the resounding answer from Waterstone’s commercial director Neil Jewsbury, who describes the notion as making an “easy headline” rather than reflecting reality.
The advent of e-readers is simply the latest development in the ongoing changes wrought by the digital age that have made all retailers reassess how they do business, he maintains. “To say it’s the end of the bookshop is premature. I’m sure it does put pressure on individual book retailers but booksellers need to be able to quickly adapt.”
To read the full story link here to Retail Week.
Thanks to Katy Austin for bringing this story to my attention.

1 comment: said...

Remember when vcr's and dvd's were supposed to kill the cinema and look around NZ now, we have more intimate theatres than ever showing more movies than ever (well, so it seems). Somehow I can't see the Kindle as a Coffee Table book. Bookshops will just have to adjust, the way cinemas have, and combine electronic with the real thing so they can capture both audiences. Nothing can replace the intimacy of browsing (library or bookshop), but how to make it pay... I get frustrated when people walk into the bookshop I work in and exclaim
"this is my favourite shop"... then spend 20 minutes browsing and walk out without opening their wallets - now that kills bookshops.
But no matter that we lament, it's happening and we'll adjust - the book is dead... long live the book.