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Why bookstores aren't going away

POSTED: June 29, 2014 7:00 a.m.
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Bookstores aren't going away

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It’s a cruel world out there for book publishers.

As the battle between Amazon and Hachette heats up, causing an impact on culture, as writer Kandra Polatis reported in May — the world for book publishers has recent revealed itself to be a tough place. And the future doesn’t look much brighter.

For starters, Walmart and Barnes & Noble are two businesses that are slashing their prices to try and capitalize on the mess surrounding Amazon and Hachette, in which Amazon is blocking orders of Hachette books due to a pricing dispute from years ago, Mashable reported. This is a method to bring in customers who normally use Amazon for their Hachette books, wrote Jason Abbruzzese for Mashable.

“Walmart and Barnes & Noble have slashed prices on Hachette books, seeking to attract new customers who were accustomed to getting editions from Amazon and now can't,” Abbruzzese said. “Amazon recently blocked preorders of upcoming Hachette titles and reduced its stock of physical books, creating long wait periods for customers that wished to order its titles.”

And whatever Hachette decides to do to solve the entire controversy with Amazon will have an impact on all book selling, said Andrew Lipstein, owner of independent publisher Os&1s, to Mashable.

"I think that the solution to this problem is nebulous right now, but the solution for the Hachette, Amazon controversy is theoretically a solution to all book selling," Lipstein said. "That is, whatever Hachette decides to do is most definitely going to pave the way for a more fair deal for publishers."

This problem is just another piece of the ongoing struggle between bookstores and online bookstores. As reported back in 2013, bookstores are finding news ways to try and get customers to stay with them.

And this is coming from top members of the bookselling industry, like Sara Hinckley, spokesperson for Hudson Group, which is a major airport bookstore owner.

“Bookstores across the country, including Hudson, are doing everything they can to give customers a reason to look beyond price as the only deciding purchase factor: a hand-picked selection, personal service, a pleasant shopping environment, convenience, community support and the most aggressive pricing we can afford,” Hinckley said to Deseret News National.

But the reality is that retailers have to make their own products to stay in the mix, wrote Joe Lazauskas of Contently. Those who sell magazines or books, for example, also have to produce their own content to keep people engaged with their store, website or overall business, Lazauskas wrote.

“That’s the reality of the world retail brands live in today,” he wrote. “They need to become masters of delivering the right content, to the right people, in the right places. A perfect formula doesn’t exist, but a few brands are emerging as publishing pioneers, creating rich, targeted content that drives sales and engagement.”

Bookstores, though, might have already dug their own graves, wrote Michael Wolff for USA Today. The top-selling products that are keeping these stores afloat aren’t even that signficant, showing a complete shift in book culture, Wolff wrote.

“The book business has tried to rally a sentimental hurrah based on book culture and literary pride, as well as dire warnings of the loss of same,” Wolff wrote. “This is, however, a difficult case because the industry has not just consolidated into a beast of no cultural distinction at all, but has become an outlet for among the lowest and most ignorant cultural products — books, by and large, are silly and dumb, a cultural wasteland.”

Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com
Twitter: @herbscribner

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