February 9th, 2011
I have to rant a bit here.
I can see why Borders and other bookstores are having trouble managing to keep from bankruptcy. One of the things that allowed them to grow quickly was the fact that I could always seem to find something odd and interesting on their shelves, and new books were available when they came out, if only a single copy.
Nowadays, I rarely find any but the highest selling authors works on the shelves.
I used to be able to find this particular author's works as soon as they were released. Now, the local B&N or Borders don't have them, and want me to order them from their warehouse. No, I think not. It's Amazon for me.
No wonder they are all hurting.
Since the local shop isn't buying the books, but accepting their orders from a central buyer, they aren't responding to local tastes, but to national "trends".
Agree 1000%. This has been my problem with Borders for years. If it hasn't been in Oprah's book club or been made into a multi-million dollar summer blockbuster, good luck in finding it.
I've had better luck with some of the Barnes & Nobles, though.
I really do miss the Tower Records brick & mortar stores.
Ten years ago, I would have felt that Borders was more likely to have a book, but for the last few years, it has switched to B&N. I still don't care for B&N, though, since I was used to being able to do my own searches at Borders.
I'd have to agree. But last night both of the big chain stores failed me.
It's a suicidal practice too. You can get the same books from any outlet anywhere, why bother to go the the brick and mortar? Especially because they've already forced you to find an alternative outlet for the less common books you might want. And face it, if you're a real reader, you have at least some interest in the less than best sellers.
If they decided to specialize in the rare and unusual, they'd keep customers in the store, because it would be the easiest place to find them and worth the trip and the price premium to go.
I suspect that these practices that are screwing them up are based on maximum profit, while giving minimum service.
I think that they've lost sight of the real point of a bookstore. It's not supposed to be the end point of mass marketing, it's supposed to be an alternative to a library.
I read an article (I think the New York Times) about Borders' recent problems, and it pointed out that while they used to carry more quirky stuff, when the Internet boom hit they started off by having Amazon do their online sales. So Amazon got all of this information about their customers' preferences and lured away those of them who wanted the less-popular stuff. The quirky stuff stopped selling as well at Borders, so they dropped it, and now you have the situation you have.
There's a big independent bookstore in Pasadena (Vroman's) that's a block away from where I work, so when I want to get books I generally special order through them, to help them stay in business. It helps that I have a large backlog of things to read, so I'm rarely in a position where I must have something right away.
And for me, Vroman's is an hour round trip drive. My nearest Borders is just over five minutes away. Using Amazon often gets me the book faster than Borders can get it from their warehouse. So it goes.
Like the movie industry (or at least the major studio's majority part of it) they aren't taking any chances... unless it is an "established popular writer" guaranteed to sell.
They used to have all sorts of unusual books.
It's the store in Boston
where i first ran into the Osprey books (on the Roman Army),
granted only ~10 titles but enough to turn me onto the series.
Now it's the same narrow selection everywhere.
Even in Cambridge specifically Hvd Sq, the former oasis of bookstores,
the only bookstore where i can see a large listing
of books otherwise only available at Amazons is the Harvard Bookstore,
the only large indie bookstore to survive the
yuppie real estate destruction of Harvard Sq in the 90's... it's a sad situation.
I was last in Harvard Square in the late 80s or very early 90s, and I ended up flying home with around 50# of books. It's sad to hear that it's changed so much.
Well, they've been disappointing me more and more for several years.
"national trends"? meaning many copies of...bleh? and the odd jane austen?
Something like that, yes. And several copies of Watchmen...
Yeah, the same thing started happening to record stores too. When my Virgin Megastore started carrying less independent artists and more mass-market "artists". Usually hip hop or people that don't write their own music or lyrics and use too much auto tune.
It's symptomatic of the current economic climate in the US. No one learns from their mistakes...
And now it's hard to find any record stores at all...
It's stupid for ANY chain store, whatever the product, to ignore local customers in favor of national trends. The "nation" doesn't shop there-your repeat customers who live nearby do!
I've been buying from amazon for years, because I can find all those interesting, offbeat and ~inexpensive books that I want. If you're not looking for a new bestseller, it's amazing how little you can get a good, nearly new book for!
You'd think people would learn from the old Soviet Union, command economies don't work.
|Date:||February 10th, 2011 04:21 am (UTC)|| |
Then again, independant bookstores have vanished around western Mass/CT due to the fact that everyone bought the mass market stuff from Amazon cheaper after checking it out at the store. There really isn't a win for the bibliophile anymore. I guess we're really headed back to the days of word of mouth.
Or the mass move to ereaders...
Having worked in the book sellers industry, I can say that this isn't new. The big chains have always behaved like this, it's just that in LA, we don't notice so much. Now though, some of the really cool independents are gone, and all that's left are the glaring places like B&N (we referred to them as Satan's) and Borders. When the Independent Booksellers Association sued B&N, it was pretty obvious in the smaller towns. These giants would go in, sell books for wholesale, and run the indies out of business. The indies couldn't take a 35% cut. Then once gone, the big chains could do away with having to worry about having every single title on their shelves.
Ten years ago, no one anticipated just how successful places like Amazon would be. Ten years later, B&N and Borders still haven't changed their trading practices. The result is this.
What hurts is that once these giants fall, we're not going to have any bookstores we can walk to. No indies, no chains, they'll all be gone. Worse, many libraries have suffered cuts due to the economy, and other libraries just suck. Better hope Amazon doesn't sink.
Yeah, our neighborhood library is pretty poor. However, I order library books from the whole county online, and pick them up at my library. That makes the service much better.
I can only hope that the fall of the giants will open things up for smaller stores that are a bit quirky. Like the fungus and lichens that eat up a dead tree after it falls, don't you know.
The thing that I see as BN's biggest mistake is the fact that they are now trying to compete in the electronics gadget market.
Offering the Nook would be okay. They do have to keep up with the times. The problem is that this is what they have chosen to focus on. They've forgotten how many people want paper and ink books on the shelves in a huge variety of subjects, and knowledgeable booksellers to help them.
I think that because of this, there will be a resurgence of indy bookstores. It may take a while, but I do think it will happen.
The Nook counter at our local B&N is huge, and it's right up front at the entryway. You practically trip over it when you come in. And it's the only table in the store that has someone there constantly to chat you up.