Last week, The New York Times published an interesting series of articles entitled, “Bits of Destruction Hit the Book Publishing Business.” Part 1 of the article, discusses the “three big new waves” affecting the book publishing industry – Google Book Search and the digitization of millions of books, increasing consumer acceptance of e-books largely due to the Kindle, and print on demand. Then, Part 2 takes a look at the how these waves will affect all of the players in the industry including: readers, authors, printers, publishers, retailers, and e-book device vendors. One particularly interesting portion of the article is the discussion about retailers. The article notes, “Here is a bookstore owner’s nightmare. Customer walks in; browses around; has grand old time in this temple of knowledge; peruses a book that costs $27; takes out Kindle and orders it for $17, right there in front of your nose, using your wi-fi connection. Aaagh! You wake up sweating at 3:00 in the morning.” While the scenario is a nightmare for retailers, it is also becoming reality. The article points out that the industry can no longer operate on the “sale or return” model and with digital books and print-on-demand it does not have to. In the future, bookstores may be even more like coffee shops and become “community hang-out spots” that offer, a few best selling books and DVDs, pricey coffee and snacks, free wi-fi, and a way for consumers to place an order for any book.
The article has a lot of interesting thoughts and information and is worth a read.