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cloudship    7

They just announced that the Borders in our city is closing. Bit of a surprise, as the store was usually fairly busy. Then again, I guess there were a lot more people just browsing and reading than buying. In our case it was located not that far from a medical school, and we have several other colleges in the area. So, the store was more tha just a place to find books, it was a place to gather and do homework, meet friends, and just plain hang out for the geeky loaner types.

What is the role of bookstores in the community? The smaller guys are having problems staying alive, and even the bigger guys are, too. yet it is hard for me to imagine an area without one - it is about the only place I willing will go shopping unless I absolutely have to. Libraries don't seem to fill the same needs - perhaps it's because their selection of books always seem far too old, or that it's such a hush-hush place. But book stores can't seem to sell enough books, and when buying books people turn to Amazon. There is the cafe, but that is hardly something limited to Borders - there are plenty of other cafes around. Obviously, to survive, they need to be able to make money. Books themselves seem to be a changing thing - I myself use a kindle and buy a lot of my books online for that. How does the bookstore fit in with the new distribution model? What other roles could a bookstore play?

Personally, I think that the modern bookstore needs to develop into a hybrid model. Traditionally online sites supported a stores brick and mortar presence. I think in the book world anyways, this needs to change. The bookstore needs to be a brick and mortar representation of an online business. There are tons of books out there, and it is hard to really get an idea what you are getting by looking at it online, particularly with books filled with illustrations. Stores also need to become places to find help choosing from all the different books available.

I also think the distribution model needs to be fixed. If it is cheaper for an online presence to ship straight from the warehouse to the customer, then it should be even cheape rif they could ship straight to the store. The storefront would then be a showroom, and the customer would order their books. Pay a premium to pick it up right then and there, or a little less to have it shipped to the home, and for real savings have it come back on the weekly delivery truck to the store, and the customer goes to pick it up. Likewise, the retail store could be a comfortable place to browse for and download ebooks. Printing on Demand could also become a big push - that would require a bit of a change in how retailers and publishers look at books, and it may be time for them to do that. This might even allow a bookstore to become a haven and hangout for the underground author.

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StevenRocks    0

The premise behind book superstores, as I understand it was a "leisure" model. People were encouraged to come in, relax, try out the books, have some coffee and, theoretically go home with new books and CDs. It was a very 1995 kind of idea, and it worked pretty well at first. The problem became that the biggest concept users were the ones most likely to check out the books and music and then buy them on the internet, often while using a device powered by the store's own free wi-fi. Prices went up to compensate, which drove customers away. Then, electronic books and MP3s rendered the merchandise irrelevant. In the case of Borders, they never embraced the new technology or adjusted their prices or selection. They just kept on humming along like it was 1995. Now, they're all but gone.

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