A Letter To The Bricks And Mortar Bookstores

I’m sure, by now, everyone knows about Borders and its liquidation. I know six years ago when I was introduced to epublishing, I was totally amazed that you bookstores didn’t pick it up immediately. It was two years before I saw a Sony reader in your store and by that time, you were barely in the business of selling books anymore, offering CDs, DVDs and gift cards.
Borders is gone, its relevance completely nullified by online retail and ebooks. Barnes and Noble has survived…barely. I have some suggestions to you that really aren’t that difficult to figure out if only you would pay attention to your customers.
Be more accessible.
Here’s what I mean. Borders is the ONLY game in town in Humboldt county. With this store gone, the only booksellers left are niche bookstores (consisting of one new age place), used bookstores, and big box retail such as Target and K-Mart. It’s not like Borders didn’t have a chance. The problem I had with them was EVERYTHING I wanted to purchase was not in the store and had to be ordered. Ordering through the physical store was cumbersome and made absolutely no sense when I could “one click” order at Amazon.
A new age dawned and Borders was too busy trying to milk money from its customers.
Here’s what I think they could have done and that you might consider.
“Hey, customer, I know you want that book and we don’t have it in stock. But it’s in Ebook form! Here’s a download station.” Or “We can download that to a disc and you can take it home and read it.” Or even “I can have that order sent directly to your home!”
Border’s search parameters were pathetic and unwieldy. I had little luck with using their computers. They were smart enough to install them for customers looking for books, but not smart enough to start an ebook docking station?
Combining the bookstore shopping experience with ebooks might have actually drawn in a few people who might have kept the store afloat. I think Barnes and Noble and their Nook have staved off their demise. Amazon with its easy search programs, its wide variety and free shipping options has taken the book market by storm.
I know. I’m an author. And guess where most of my ebook sales are? Amazon. The Kindle.
I don’t want to see the Brick and Mortar store go the way of the dinosaur. But the whole purpose of a bookstore is to provide a customer with books. I love the feel of a bookstore, the visual stimulation of seeing a wide array of covers, the smell of paper, that new book feeling. I think I could have had the same experience with ebooks had your stores embraced the technology.
Think about it. You could have been the awesome purveyor of ebooks, audio books and so many other types so easily. You had the unique perspective on your customers since we’ve been with you for centuries. But in your focusing on the bottom line, you missed an opportunity to shine. There was a definite arrogance in your attitude toward epublishing. The Old Guard had its way and now, the only new bookstore in Humboldt County is closing.
Sure, I understand that you can’t embrace every newfangled idea that comes along, but both you and tradition NY publishing houses have been so slow to catch on, I’m wondering at your blindness. Eleven years ago, Ellora’s Cave opened their doors and offered readers erotic romance online. Six years ago, an explosion of epublishers began to effect change in how many viewed books. Then, the Kindle burst on the scene offering customers a gadget to read books they could download. Instantly.
Six years ago, many could see it coming. My question to you now is can you adjust to the future?

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1 Comment

Filed under Humboldt County, Letters from a Redneck

One response to “A Letter To The Bricks And Mortar Bookstores

  1. This is so true. I was out shopping today and stopped at Barnes & Noble. I actually love going into a bookstore. It’s so … homey. Comfortable. Since i have a sadly limited book budget I like to browse to decide how to spend my money. I can grab a few books off the shelf and find a place to sit while I look them over, read a page here and there and finally settle on the ones I want the most. I have a nook, so I can also download books right there in the store as well as at home or at the local coffeeshop.

    Digital books are the future. Any publisher or bookstore that doesn’t accomodate the digital readers will be losing customers and revenue. End of story.

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