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The current state of things

Posted by: | December 1, 2011 | No Comment |

Borders is gone.

The question is why? Well for most, it’s not a question. It’s a warning. A warning to show that in this age of technology you have to adapt — or be left in the dust.

A Wall Street Journal titled “One Chapter Closes…As New One Is Opening” describes the fall of Borders. They couldn’t find a buyer. Their physical book sales went down. They didn’t adapt to e-books fast enough. Currently Amazon, Apple and Google dominate the e-book market.

Bookstores or ebooks? (Photo courtesy of http://www.product-reviews.net/2010/11/30/apple-ipad-vs-kindle-vs-nook-popularity-comparison/)


In the Washington Post’s “Borders killed by many self-inflicted paper cuts, not Web”, they say Borders said it failed because of the rapidly changing book industry, e-reader revolution and the economy. Borders lost its competitive edge, didn’t have effective business models and it over-extended itself.

According to a salon.com article, most independent bookstores weren’t too crazy about such retail stores like Barnes & Noble or Borders. But these retail stores also brought books into communities that might not have had independent stores and people are still upset that the chain closed. They say the bookstores helped the community. They created jobs, they created a space for people to read and talk about what they’ve read. The workers believed in books and helped customers see what they had been missing.

In the same article, there are some authors who are considering opening up their own bookstores now that Borders has closed. Many authors reminisced about going to Borders. It was an experience. One author compared what e-books have done to authors to what downloads have done to artists. Artists lose money from the downloads but make up for it on tours. Authors generally make more money from e-books than mass-market paperback sales. Indeed some, like Amanda Hocking, have even made millions from their e-books.

E-books are making people adapt to the new technology. People are reading more because of the convenience. E-books take advantage of the impulse buy and most importantly e-books are cheaper than most of the other options out there.

In “What an E-Reader Can’t Download,” Heitman reminds us that reading isn’t just about taking in words. Physical books can represent memories that go along with them. You don’t get that from an e-book.

Finally, I found in “From Gutenberg to Zoobert” that similar to newspapers, the independent bookstores received profits for a long time before the bigger chains came along. E-books have hurt the chains, who have only been around since the 1980s or later. Also similar to journalism now, the new technologies are changing what books are. E-books can be more interactive with the audience and provide information for further exploration at the click of a button or the tap of a finger.

So, what’s next?

under: Comm 455
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