Recently there was an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal and another from Laura Dawson of LJNDawson that discussed the future for bookstores and how the digital revolution is forcing them to reinvent their business models. Dawson says, “Possibly a third of bookstores in the US will close when Borders is finished with its death spiral and Barnes & Noble and successful independents have picked up what business makes sense in those locations.” When the stores close, customers will quickly become accustomed to ordering books online and the instant gratification associated with e-book purchases. Dawson refers to this as “leapfrogging” and says it will start in rural and suburban areas and once the convenience of immediate delivery of digital books is realized, it will only be a matter of time before stores have to transform the in-store experience and offer more than just books.
According to the WSJ article, stores such as Indigo Books & Music Inc. in Canada and Barnes & Noble are already working on this. Leonard Riggio, chairman of B & N, says that over the next three to four years B&N stores will begin to sell a variety of merchandise and will serve as a showcase for digital products which will create a much more diverse retail store.
College stores must also begin preparing for this change. While many stores already offer a variety of merchandise, new product lines will become even more significant in the coming years. But more importantly, college stores need to offer students the opportunity to purchase print books and digital books through the store website. Students are already very accustomed to shopping online and this trend will continue in the coming years.