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Amazon Gets Blow-Back Over Plan To Sell Kindles At Small Bookshops

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the would-you-like-help-ruining-your-business? dept.

Books 176

Rambo Tribble writes "No sooner had Amazon revealed their plan to offer independent book shops the Kindle for re-sale, along with a kick-back on e-book purchases, than the fur began to fly. It appears the shops view the plan as Amazon-assisted suicide. Given the apparent terms of the deal, it looks like they may have a point. Amazon may well have done themselves more harm than good with this ploy. One storeowner wrote, 'Hmmm, let's see. We sell Kindles for essentially no profit, the new Kindle customer is in our store where they can browse and discover books, the new Kindle customer can then check the price on Amazon and order the e-book. We make a little on their e-book purchases, but then lose them as a customer completely after two years. Doesn't sound like such a great partnership to me.'"

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May as well get SOME money (3, Insightful)

SigNuZX728 (635311) | about a year ago | (#45373069)

You might as well get what money you can while you can. Owning a book store does not sound like a thing that is going to last for long. Maybe if you ask nicely, you can get Amazon to put some of their delivery lockers in your store.

Amazon Bookstore (4, Interesting)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#45373301)

The independent books that I know have a small edges going for them.

There is new market for “shopping / entertainment“. You go to the store to be entertained and you pay via a purchase. Kind of like renting office space at the coffee shop for the price of a cup of coffee. Most of these shops tend to be narrowly focused, have a deep catalog of hard to fine / out of print stuff (which is sold via Amazon), have lots of events (singings, clubs, etc.) and sell a lot of stuff other than books.

Oddly the one that I am thinking about was the Amazon Bookstore specializing in woman and lesbian literature. There was a bit of a tussle between them and Amazon.com over the name and the more or less won that fight.

Re:Amazon Bookstore (1, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | about a year ago | (#45374073)

There was a bit of a tussle between them and Amazon.com

Were they sentenced to death by snu-snu?

Re:May as well get SOME money (1, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#45373535)

You might as well get what money you can while you can. Owning a book store does not sound like a thing that is going to last for long.

Exactly -- if the customer is in the store and the store can't show that they provide any value to that customer, it sounds like the stores have already lost.

It's not like customers aren't going to buy a Kindle just because they can't find it in their local bookstore.

Re:May as well get SOME money (1)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#45374209)

Part of the problem is that the bookstore does provide value to the customer, but when they finally make their purchase they do it form Amazon instead.

Re:May as well get SOME money (3, Interesting)

undeadbill (2490070) | about a year ago | (#45373567)

I still use bookstores, but I go there to buy high quality hardbound prints of books that I like to re-read, or older paperbacks. The small bookstores I go to have always catered to this market, so while there may be some issues with bookstores staying afloat, the ones I go to have been expanding their selection of quality bound books. I've bought several copies as gifts as well, all from the same two stores near where I live. I never considered doing that on Amazon, as I can't gauge the print quality over the internet.

Another thing is that certain specialty book stores (like scifi/fantasy genre stores) will always have the best fiction on their shelves, vs the metric assload of poor quality stories I find as the majority of Amazon selections, with a very limited ability to refine searches based upon preferences that I can more easily communicate to a person.

And I'm saying this as an Amazon Prime user with an extensive selection of kindle titles. Most of those are copies that I own and keep for travel purposes. What I would like to see are book publishers distributing download codes with their books, so I could get an ebook copy after I pay for a high quality printing. I really don't consider the burgeoning ebook reader market of people who are rediscovering books on marketplaces like Amazon as the same market of avid readers who like the feel of a good book in their hands- if anything, I'd wager that many Amazon users will start buying hardbounds in the future much as I am doing now.

Re:May as well get SOME money (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373601)

You might as well get what money you can while you can. Owning a book store does not sound like a thing that is going to last for long. Maybe if you ask nicely, you can get Amazon to put some of their delivery lockers in your store.

But if these customers are walking into your bookstore to buy books. Why would you essentially tell those people not to shop there anymore?

Re:May as well get SOME money (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#45373665)

You might as well get what money you can while you can. Owning a book store does not sound like a thing that is going to last for long.

Maybe if you ask nicely, you can get Amazon to put some of their delivery lockers in your store.

But if these customers are walking into your bookstore to buy books. Why would you essentially tell those people not to shop there anymore?

Because it's your last chance to show the customers why they should continue buying from you, even if they buy some content online. If you don't add any value, they are going to stop buying from you whether you sell them a Kindle or not, but at least if they buy it from you, you have the chance to show them how you add value.

Re:May as well get SOME money (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#45373709)

Because it's your last chance to show the customers why they should continue buying from you, even if they buy some content online./quote.

Doubtful. The vast majority of book buyers neither own e-readers or buy e-books. You're highly exaggerating the situation. Partnering with Amazon is simply just running yourself out of a business while Amazon makes the vast majority of the profits.

Re:May as well get SOME money (1)

lgw (121541) | about a year ago | (#45373799)

The demographic trend is strong. The bookstore will go the way of the print newspaper, one generation later. Hell, I have ~1000 books but even I realize it's time to switch. Ink smeared on bound paper has a certain appeal, but there's nothing really better about it.

Re:May as well get SOME money (3, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#45374227)

The fate of paper books is not quite written in stone yet. eBooks have some significant advantages, but some real downsides too. I suspect long term we will just see a new equilibrium rather then a complete crushing.

Re:May as well get SOME money (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#45374265)

The fate of paper books is not quite written in stone yet. eBooks have some significant advantages, but some real downsides too. I suspect long term we will just see a new equilibrium rather then a complete crushing.

Right, the music industry made such a big comeback and now you see music stores on every corner. CD's are still sold, but not many in independent shops.

Re:May as well get SOME money (1)

beckett (27524) | about a year ago | (#45374473)

Right, the music industry made such a big comeback and now you see music stores on every corner. CD's are still sold, but not many in independent shops.

Who said anything about CD's? Before Technology [engadget.com] seems to be interesting again.

Re:May as well get SOME money (2, Funny)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#45373697)

Totally. Just the other day I kicked over some whore, pissed on her and then threw a couple of bucks at her. And that bitch had the audacity to complain! So I told her "What do you have to complain about, bitch? You got some money out of this".

Re:May as well get SOME money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373721)

My wife and I both buy/read e-books, but we have voracious appetites for hardcopy books as well. That said, we love and support our favorite books stores - mostly independent ones with eclectic selections. Yeah, we can probably buy the hard copy for less at Amazon, but it just is NOT the same!

FWIW, e-books with a decent reader are great for travel, but when we are sitting at home on a cold winter night, there is nothing like the feel of turning paper pages under your fingers.

No duh. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373071)

Big Warehouse Book stores kill the independent book stores. Amazon killed the Big Book stores. But the silver lining is that the death of the Big Warehouse Book stores gave new life to the independents. So now Amazon tries to kill the independents, but they are not morons.

The independents were saved by Amazon, but that doesn't mean they are stupid enough to let Amazon kill them next.

How is this worse? (5, Insightful)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | about a year ago | (#45373077)

How is this any worse for the small bookstores than their customers buying a Kindle from some other retailer, or direct from amazon.com? They'd still be browsing in the store, checking online prices, buying the e-books, and eventually ceasing to be a customer. The bookstore would simply have deprived itself of an opportunity to be the one selling the Kindles and getting a cut of e-book revenues in the meantime.

Do these bookstores really think that refusing to sell the devices themselves will slow adoption?

And it isn't like they have to do it (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year ago | (#45373139)

Amazon is offering an option. Don't like it? Don't play. However Amazon isn't going away, they aren't going to stop selling eBooks (or physical books). So plan accordingly. If you think not partnering with them is best do that, if you think it is best, do that. But don't assume you can cry and they'll go away. You WILL have to deal with their competition.

Re:And it isn't like they have to do it (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373195)

You WILL have to deal with their competition.

Not, apparently, in France: http://news.slashdot.org/story/13/10/27/1219244/france-moves-to-protect-independent-booksellers-from-amazon [slashdot.org]

Re:And it isn't like they have to do it (2)

gutnor (872759) | about a year ago | (#45373901)

It is interesting to note that in France it was to other way around. Independent could not compete with Amazon because book price is fixed by law. The "protection" is closing a loophole that allow shop like Amazon and other to offer a discount price and free delivery on top.

France has done nothing to protect the bookstores from the e-book.

Re:How is this worse? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373207)

Do these bookstores really think that refusing to sell the devices themselves will slow adoption?

Perhaps not, but to a lot of these people, this is like watching a mass murderer slaughter all your friends right before your eyes over the course of a decade. Then he bursts into your home, ties you to a chair, and informs you that he's wired explosives in every crevice and every open space in the walls. Then he shows "mercy" on you by offering you a loaded gun with which you can kill yourself before the bombs go off, unties one of your arms for the task, and calmly walks out while the detonator beeps away.

Re:How is this worse? (5, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#45373253)

I'm kind of interested in the bookstores I know of that are not going under because of Amazon. At least here in Chicago, the independent booksellers I frequent appear to be doing very well, especially now that the Borders and B&N and other chain bookstores have all but disappeared.

I don't see that they've changed their business model much with the rise of e-books, yet they are still busy, filled with customers, and in once case, even expanding.

If you treat customers right, I think there's still room for booksellers to succeed. Don't compete on price - compete on service.

Re:How is this worse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373265)

If people would buy the Kindle at the bookstore were they to sell it then, yes, of course not selling will slow adoption. It's almost tautological.

In the long run it won't help, but it will obviously slow adoption among a subset of the customers of that bookstore.

Re:How is this worse? (3, Insightful)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | about a year ago | (#45373379)

If people would buy the Kindle at the bookstore were they to sell it then, yes, of course not selling will slow adoption.

If people would only buy the Kindle were the bookstore to sell it, then not selling would slow adoption. But how likely is that? A much more realistic scenario is that a person might have bought the Kindle at their favorite bookstore if it was available, but if not then they'll buy it at Best Buy or Wal-Mart or amazon.com, or even the bookstore down the street that's participating in the program. Either way they get their Kindle.

At most the bookstore might be advertising the Kindle a bit by carrying it, increasing adoption by a miniscule amount, but by this point most people know what a Kindle is and where they can get one. Keeping them out of the bookstores won't change that.

Re:How is this worse? (2)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#45374123)

People are creatures of habit, if you go to the book store and they serve your book needs why screw with what works? Just knowing that there's alternatives out there isn't usually enough to push people over the edge, but if you go to the book store and they're pushing the Kindle and eBooks maybe you figure it's time to follow the crowd. If you go to the whip & buggy store you expect them to try selling you just that, if they instead try to sell you a car on commission because that's where the market is going they're only spelling their own doom. Either you milk the market as long as it lasts or you sell your own car, but unless you're getting very well paid I don't see assisted suicide as being profit-maximizing.

Re:How is this worse? (2, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#45373345)

It could be better. If Amazon were serious about it (and I think it would be in their interest to be serious about it), they could set up a kiosk in these bookstores that would keep cached copies of as much of the Kindle library as possible on a local server, and have some Kindles set up to use them, and allow people to browse the Kindle books in their entirety in the store - just like a real book. This would drive people to the stores for a better eBook-buying experience (where they can buy other stuff as well) and gets around the publishers' restrictions on doing the same online.

Amazon, drop me a line if you wanna outsource this. ;)

Re:How is this worse? (1)

Uberbah (647458) | about a year ago | (#45373375)

It's bad enough if someone else is slitting your throat - why do it for them?

Re:How is this worse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373611)

Because if they didn't already have a kindle, why the hell would you push one on them? "No, don't buy this heavy book... buy this kindle and get out of my store and don't come back!"

Re:How is this worse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373667)

The bookstore would simply have deprived itself of an opportunity to be the one selling the Kindles and getting a cut of e-book revenues in the meantime.

Yeah, 10% of the "takings". Which is likely to amount to pennies per ebook sale. The only way they would even make enough to cover a single full-time employee's salary (excluding any benefits) which amounts to a gross of 1160 at Federal minimum wage would be that their customers would have to buy 10000+ ebooks every month. That is highly unlikely.

Re:How is this worse? (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | about a year ago | (#45373835)

"Do these bookstores really think that refusing to sell the devices themselves will slow adoption?"

Apparently Amazon does, or they wouldn't be offering to cut them in for a slice of the action.

Re:How is this worse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45374365)

Because by trying to sell them on it is speeding things up. What if a customer had no intention of buying a kindle? Converting them to an ebook reader is not going to help them in the long or short run. Offering them the best physical book buying experience will.

Happy Friday from the Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373083)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a confidant.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say thank you for being a friend.

Re:Happy Friday from the Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373157)

cosmonaut. you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

Soon, no more bookstores. (1, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#45373093)

At peak, Blockbuster alone had 9,000 video rental stores. The last day to rent a video from Blockbuster is tomorrow. All the stores are closing. When will the last DVD/Blu-Ray disk be made?

Bookstores are following the trend of video stores, about ten years behind. Borders went bust two years ago. Barnes and Noble is the last big chain. Soon, no more chain bookstores. Then, no more bookstores. Then, no more printed books.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about a year ago | (#45373113)

The last disc won't be for a long, long time. Too many people like to collect them. It'll be years before they are totally superseded by digital downloads.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (0)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45373189)

People said that about books.

The number of people who want book collections - as physical things to put on shelves to impress the rubes - are dwindling rapidly. Soon it'll be like music: A few holdouts with a bunch of vinyl shopping in dusty shops and yard sales and the rest of the planet with music in the cloud.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (4, Interesting)

Rinikusu (28164) | about a year ago | (#45373371)

The big coffee-table picture books will still be around (looking at some of the beautiful photography in those books is lost on an 8.9" kindle screen). I also think technical books will remain viable in print (I've got a handful of dev-related books on my kindle, and I've invariably bought the printed versions where available). I also still insist on buy DVD/BluRays, mainly because I don't like the Netflix availability (although I do use it), but also seem to be in the mood to watch movies when my internet connection goes down.

The market is dwindling, I grant you, but there are niches where I think physical books will remain relevant. Maybe we'll see bookstores dwindle in size to become like a magazine stand or similar.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (1)

borl (586949) | about a year ago | (#45373719)

The days of screens are very much numbered too.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373737)

I agree with dreamchaser that physical media will be around for awhile. They'll just be getting the physical objects more directly, either through amazon, or from the publisher/record label/artist directly. Cutting out most of the middlemen, whether it be a mom and pop shop or a national chain, was going to happen at some point.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#45373201)

I am not so sure about that. If I had to guess I would say between 5 to 10 years.

Blue-ray has never taken off and DVD sales are falling. A large chunk of that is because people are switching from building their own personal DVD library to rent (i.e. NetFlix) or streaming. Renting implies a more efficient method of DVD ownership so that puts a floor under that until people switch to totally digital.

And I think that will happen when 4k TV takes off. I don’t hear anybody talking about shipping physical media for that format.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (3, Interesting)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about a year ago | (#45373397)

And I think that will happen when 4k TV takes off. I don’t hear anybody talking about shipping physical media for that format.

No way will this work. Bandwidth caps as they are today will prevent people from downloading 4k video. Here's a reference to a 4k documentary [gizmodo.com] that is 160GB. Does that sound like something that's going to fly with the ISPs we currently have?

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#45373519)

It is an open question but yes, I do think it will be via ISP. Right now the only way you can get 4k movies is via digital download. Now it is still the early days so only a little weight there.

Bandwidth is an issue and you have to start loading the thing in advance. Reminds of the early days of the internet. Who knows but maybe 4k is the killer application that will get everybody to buy fiber. I don’t know anybody who has had cap issues with the physical land line ISP but I am dealing with a small sample size.

But in a war between ISPs and a new media format (I have heard suggestions that a hard drive format might be I n the works) I am going to guess digital downloads.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#45373597)

And I think that will happen when 4k TV takes off. I don’t hear anybody talking about shipping physical media for that format.

No way will this work. Bandwidth caps as they are today will prevent people from downloading 4k video. Here's a reference to a 4k documentary [gizmodo.com] that is 160GB. Does that sound like something that's going to fly with the ISPs we currently have?

4K has only 4X more pixels than 1080p. Netflix says [netflix.com] that currently, you need a 5mbit connection for Hidef streaming, or 7mbit for super hidef. So that would put 4K streaming at around 20 - 28mbit... maybe less if better graphics hardware means they can use better compression algorithms. Many people are already able to get that speed from a Cable modem or U-verse style DSL.

Bandwidth caps are a business limitation, not a physical restriction. I'm sure there are bottlenecks that providers will have to overcome, but that's the nature of the business.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373833)

All this "good enough" bullshit is harshing my mellow. Really, what's the point in even getting a high end home theater, if Netflix quality, while getting better over the years, still doesn't come close for a lot of movies? What about uncompressed audio? You gonna deliver that too? Hell, even the cable service itself, has crammed more channels down the pipe, because they're cheap.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#45373947)

All this "good enough" bullshit is harshing my mellow. Really, what's the point in even getting a high end home theater, if Netflix quality, while getting better over the years, still doesn't come close for a lot of movies? What about uncompressed audio? You gonna deliver that too? Hell, even the cable service itself, has crammed more channels down the pipe, because they're cheap.

I'm not gonna deliver anything, I'm not a streaming service, I'm a consumer.

But I can tell you that even when I own a movie on Blu-ray, I'm more likely to pull it up on Netflix than get up and find the movie in my disk collection and load it into the blu-ray player. And it looks and sounds just fine to me.

As for what the point is in getting a high-end home theater, well, I'm just not sure - I don't see the value in it, I have a decent TV, and since I don't want to wire surround speakers in the living room (which is not a great acoustical environment in the first place), I just have a 2.1 soundbar for sound. I spent less than $1000 for the whole system including TV + Bluray + soundbar and I'm quite satisfied with it.

Maybe you color calibrated your TV and have carefully placed 5.1 speakers in your acoustically perfect room, but I think you'll find that content producers will end up charging you more since they'll decide that if you can spend $5000 on a home theater system, you can spend $50 for the latest movie release instead of watching a "good enough" steaming version for $3.99.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (1)

vux984 (928602) | about a year ago | (#45373925)

4K has only 4X more pixels than 1080p. Netflix says that currently, you need a 5mbit connection for Hidef streaming, or 7mbit for super hidef.

Netflix is lying to you. Their hidef isn't blu-ray quality. Its 1080p with compression artifacts. The audio isn't as good either.

Its better than then the regular hd which is even more compressed, and even that is better than some of the so called hd channels on cable some of which are badly compressed.

Compared to bluray though its a complete joke.

It's good enough, and there are only a handful of titles I would even care enough to pay extra for bluray, never mind "4k" but at the same time what's the point drooling over a netflix compressed 4k stream if their superHD is still well beneath even mere bluray 1080p.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#45374051)

4K has only 4X more pixels than 1080p. Netflix says that currently, you need a 5mbit connection for Hidef streaming, or 7mbit for super hidef.

Netflix is lying to you. Their hidef isn't blu-ray quality. Its 1080p with compression artifacts. The audio isn't as good either.

I don't think they ever said that it *is* Blu-ray quality, but the point is, it's "good enough". I own dozens of Blurays and while I can see a different because blu-ray and streaming content, it just isn't that important to me.

Its better than then the regular hd which is even more compressed, and even that is better than some of the so called hd channels on cable some of which are badly compressed.

Compared to bluray though its a complete joke.

It's good enough, and there are only a handful of titles I would even care enough to pay extra for bluray, never mind "4k" but at the same time what's the point drooling over a netflix compressed 4k stream if their superHD is still well beneath even mere bluray 1080p.

Because it has 4x more pixels, which I thought was the whole point of 4K? If I'm happy with my 60" TV when I sit 8 feet away, if I had a 4K TV, then either I can sit at half the distance (4 ft), or get a TV that's twice as large (120") and get a more immersive movie experience with the same perceived quality.

http://s3.carltonbale.com/resolution_chart.html [carltonbale.com]

Re: Soon, no more bookstores. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373859)

Compressed 25GB Blu-Ray films look pretty great at 2GB, I bet that "4k documentary that is 160G" will still look awesome compressed down to 10GB.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#45374367)

No way will this work. Bandwidth caps as they are today will prevent people from downloading 4k video.

They said the same thing about YouTube and Netflix, but when the mainstream starts using a service the caps tend to adjust. Granted I'm not in the US but in Norway however YoY bandwidth growth here is 25% and with H.265 promising the same quality at half the bandwidth the transition from 1080p to 4K is about three years of technological advance. Personally I suspect the bandwidth will arrive far ahead of TVs and content to watch, there's a massive fiber deployment and speeds are constantly upgraded as it seems most of the cost is in operating the line, not in bandwidth charges. Like my current provider, you can get a 10 Mbps line or a 90 Mbps line for 1/3rd more. I guess it's also because mostly it means my burst speeds are higher, really I already download all I want to download I only do it faster but averaged out I don't use significantly more.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#45373649)

And I think that will happen when 4k TV takes off. I donâ(TM)t hear anybody talking about shipping physical media for that format.

That's going to be a real problem. You'll need 130Mb/sec to do a good job. (If you're going to play lower-res video, why have a 2K x 4K display?)

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#45373543)

The last disc won't be for a long, long time. Too many people like to collect them. It'll be years before they are totally superseded by digital downloads.

Plus, the movie studios will want to wring every last cent out of DVD sales before they move to a pure digital distribution model.

Movie streaming catalogs (even pay per view like Amazon) have a long way to go before they will be as complete as DVD catalogs.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about a year ago | (#45373213)

I think Barnes and Noble have pretty much already gone bust. Have you been in one lately? All they have is a big Nook section surrounded by puzzles, games, greeting cards and other knick-knacks -- hardly any books at all.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#45373247)

No, I haven't been to Barnes and Noble in years. But I guess that's the point of what you're saying...

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#45373541)

The healthy part of BN, Nook & College bookstores, has been hived off to Microsoft.

The physical stores are doing less well. Last I heard the online bookstore was being run by Amazon but that was a few years ago.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373289)

Borders went bust because they were horribly mismanaged for years. I am not sure the parallel applies.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373881)

Any place that always sells their goods at the MSRP deserves to die. B&N have the most offensive movie prices. They'll be asking $22.99, when you can get it Target for $14.99 and online for $9.99. I'm sure they are(were?) big enough to get a similar wholesale price, so why do the extra gouging?

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (2)

SeaFox (739806) | about a year ago | (#45373391)

At peak, Blockbuster alone had 9,000 video rental stores.
The last day to rent a video from Blockbuster is tomorrow. All the stores are closing. When will the last DVD/Blu-Ray disk be made?

Digital download/streaming videos still doesn't match the video/audio quality of a blu-ray, and wont for a long, long time (in the United States at least) because Internet service wont be fast enough/offer high enough caps to make that kind of product practical for long, long time.

A book is a static image. If you don't have a fetish over paper and binding the experience can be reproduced much more easily.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#45373647)

At peak, Blockbuster alone had 9,000 video rental stores.
The last day to rent a video from Blockbuster is tomorrow. All the stores are closing. When will the last DVD/Blu-Ray disk be made?

Digital download/streaming videos still doesn't match the video/audio quality of a blu-ray, and wont for a long, long time (in the United States at least) because Internet service wont be fast enough/offer high enough caps to make that kind of product practical for long, long time.

A book is a static image. If you don't have a fetish over paper and binding the experience can be reproduced much more easily.

Likewise, if you don't have a fetish for the utmost in picture quality,existing hidef video streaming is already "good enough" for the majority of people.

Re:Soon, no more bookstores. (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about a year ago | (#45373715)

Digital download/streaming videos still doesn't match the video/audio quality of a blu-ray, and wont for a long, long time

You know, I think this is a matter of personal taste. I couldn't care less about video quality, within reason. I have absolutely no desire to try to have a movie theatre in my home. Then again, I don't watch a lot of movies or TV. For audio, I'm a little more picky.

A book is a static image. If you don't have a fetish over paper and binding the experience can be reproduced much more easily.

While you're correct that it would now be pretty easy to replicate the experience of a high-quality printed book, nobody is really doing it. If only I could buy a "static image" of a decently designed book, I'd be happy. But most "ebooks" are just text that's thrown into some stupid engine that formats text like the worst version of MS Word, only with a smaller selection of fonts and less control over other things that affect readability.

I actually own a Kindle, but I've purchased exactly two ebooks. I've tried downloading other free ones too, and they just look horrible, if you care at all about typography. I'd much prefer a static image (e.g., PDF), if it were sized so that I could read it on my screen properly. Almost all the books I actually have loaded on my Kindle are PDFs derived from paper books (even very old ones), because the typesetting is just so much better.

It has nothing to do with a "paper fetish" or binding. Good typography just "looks better," just like high-quality video or whatever. Page layout, text-block size, spacing between lines, between words, between sentences, etc. does make a difference. Line-breaking automatically and hyphenating automatically is more-or-less possible, but it requires a better engine that most ebook readers. And different typefaces require different solutions.

If someone wanted to really implement high-quality ebooks, they could make use of, say, a LaTeX engine which could regenerate and retypeset a book to fit whatever screen size desired, with the font size chosen. A durable PS or PDF version could be generated that would always look the same, once the user decides the specs for that book.

This would better replicate the experience of paper books, not just from an aesthetic standpoint, but also the sense of "memory" one gets about "where something was on the page." When I actually sit down and read to learn something, I usually remember where something is discussed by the placement on the page, and the approximate location thumbing through the book. That sort of physical interaction with "browsing" through pages and remembering locations is much more difficult with ebooks, especially when text can reflow on a whim.

I'm not saying everyone has to care about typography in this way, but some people do. To them, "the experience can be reproduced much more easily," but so far hasn't. Unfortunately, the people who want to have a movie theatre in their home seem to be much more numerous than the people who care about beautiful typesetting. Alas, Donald Knuth's vision for beautiful automatic typography seems to have been forgotten....

Soon, no more libraries either (1)

Chemisor (97276) | about a year ago | (#45373453)

I used to spend days in the library, but lately all the information I want is easily accessible online, wikipedia or google. I haven't been to the library in years. What's it been now, 5 years? 7? I don't even remember. For all I know, it may have been demolished since then. I would guess that soon they all will be.

Re:Soon, no more libraries either (2)

phoenix_rizzen (256998) | about a year ago | (#45373663)

Our libray system just built an entire commercial/residential complex above/around the new library on one side of town. They did the same 15-odd years ago for the other side of town. And there's talk of expanding or opening another branch.

They've also expanded beyond just books, offering CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, and even e-book loans. There are multiple computer labs available for rent (free for individuals if room not in use), multiple computer terminals around the library for patrons to use, study carrels, meeting/study rooms for groups, etc. They teach various courses (free for patrons) as well. The new branch even includes a gas fireplace and lounge chairs. All that's missing is a coffeeshop inside the library itself.

Libraries aren't going anywhere. They're evolving with the times.

Re:Soon, no more libraries either (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about a year ago | (#45374371)

All that new infrastructure and space isn't cheap. Unfortunately, only affluent areas can offer your vision of libraries of the future. Back in the pre-internet area, when print was king, even poorer communities could provide a reasonable standard of information to citizens. As it is playing out, wealthier areas are getting what you describe, and poorer areas are ending up with nothing at all.

I've seen this movie... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373095)

Meg Ryan falls in love with Jeff Bezos at the end.

your business model is suicide (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373099)

BlockBuster just decided to close its remaining stores.

Heres a hint, your business model is already dead.

There will of course be some room for quite some time for novelty, nostalgia, and those who simply refuse to go digital... but that is a shrinking market.

Sorry.

P.S. i consider myself one of those who prefers paper - but im not dumb enough to think that my kindle which weighs nothing and has 40 giant volumes on it isnt fast becoming the FAR superior product overall (barring the Orwellian perishable drawbacks of E-readers).

Re:your business model is suicide (2)

captjc (453680) | about a year ago | (#45374359)

The comparison is apples and oranges. Blockbuster was dead the minute Netflix became a viable option. In some cases, Disc is a far superior product between bonus features and if you have a crappy internet connection you don't have any significant load times. However, the convenience of internet steaming with the all-you-can-eat nature of streaming was the final straw for brick-and-mortar stores.

Books and bookstores are not obsolete. They still have many advantages over ebooks and online distribution. First, paper is a great medium; It is dirt cheap; doesn't need batteries; I can annotate and highlight; If I ruin it, there is no huge loss; I can sell it when I'm done; and it comes in many sizes from trade paperbacks to huge coffee table art books. Bookstores are great because you can sample the merchandise. At blockbuster, all I can see is the blurb on the back of the box with a few pictures, the same stuff that can be found anywhere. In a bookstore I can pick it up, leaf through it, even read some of it. Best part is, if I buy it I have it then and there and not 3-to-5 business days from now.

Books and bookstores are going to be around for a long while. As long as paper printing a still dirt cheap, and as long as eReaders are still a big investment for most people (When I see an e-Ink reader for under $30 sold at brick-and-mortar Walmarts or Target, then we'll talk). Sure, bookstores won't be a prevalent as they once were but they are far from being dead any time soon.

Time for a different business model (2, Interesting)

Alternate Interior (725192) | about a year ago | (#45373123)

I'm firmly in camp ebook. Let's disclose that up front.

Book stores should charge cover. The experience of browsing in a book store is much better than browsing Amazon's web site. The tablet kindle store is better but it still doesn't compare to browsing on a shelf, reading a page on a whim. So when it's time to find something new to read, I'll go spend an hour in Barnes & Noble and make a list of a dozen books. I'll probably buy a coffee while there, but otherwise B&N is making nothing off me.

That's not fair to them, but that is how their business is structured. I fear bookstores collapsing. I preferred Borders and was disappointed when it went under. Don't want that to happen to B&N. But what answer is there? There are only a handful of reference-type paper books I would buy. Might get a calendar once a year. Couple presents. But Amazon gets most of my book dollars. That's just sad reality.

So, I say, charge me cover. Heck, charge everybody cover. $2 to come in. If you buy a book, offer a $2 discount. The bookstore is suddenly less disadvantaged then previously. If you are a paper book buyer, you're not disadvantaged. If you really are a paper book buyer and are simply browsing, suddenly, you're the party suffering. But you're incidental to this- if bookstores are in trouble, you're going to lose them eventually. So you have the heavy burden of paying a couple dollars, or you can browse at a library instead.

The small bookstores TFA discusses aren't necessarily the same as B&N - but that's the problem. They have even less to offer. Stocking Kindles may not be the answer, but they're getting squeezed by both Amazon and B&N. They need to find a niche compatible with their clients to survive.

Re:Time for a different business model (-1, Troll)

DogDude (805747) | about a year ago | (#45373181)

That's not fair to them, but that is how their business is structured.

Wow. Way to displace blame for your own dick-ish behavior!

"I'm not an ass. It's the business model!"

Re:Time for a different business model (1)

Alternate Interior (725192) | about a year ago | (#45373211)

So I can buy Amazon Kindle books there, then?

Oh.

Guess it is the business model.

Re:Time for a different business model (1)

PraiseBob (1923958) | about a year ago | (#45373449)

I like how you conveniently ignore both the Nook, and the fact that they DO offer ebooks which kindles can purchase, download, and read easily. You could support them financially, you just choose to take advantage of their perks for free.

I don't understand how your statement is different from this: "I really like the local coffeeshop, and love using their free wifi and sitting around there all day. But they don't sell coffee inside Starbucks cups, so I don't buy anything from them."

Re:Time for a different business model (1)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about a year ago | (#45373451)

You can buy print books there. This is the same as browsing at BestBuy and then buying stuff on Amazon. You are leaching off a physical store so that you can get a better deal elsewhere. That is not a business model, that's a terrible customer that no one wants. If you're real world show room goes under, you didn't support them at all and can only blame yourself.

So, I say, charge me cover. Heck, charge everybody cover. $2 to come in. If you buy a book, offer a $2 discount.

If you want to support them, how about buying a $2 magazine or a book every now and then instead of suggest they charge an asinine cover that will run them out of business faster.

Re:Time for a different business model (1)

Kielistic (1273232) | about a year ago | (#45373937)

Unfortunately calling your customers names and stamping your feet doesn't pay many bills.

Re:Time for a different business model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373235)

Or, you could spend your money at Barnes and Noble. It seems like you want them to stay in business - just not enough to actually buy their goods. There are a lot of people like you. At bookstores. At Best-Buy. Using these companies as show rooms - and even buying online while wandering the aisles checking out the products. That's no problem - there isn't really anything wrong with that. But, if you want these stores to stay around you should probably buy the stuff from them. Otherwise there won't be any physical showrooms for the internet anymore. Oh, and Amazon won't have to bother improving their search or book discovery capability...

Re:Time for a different business model (1)

Alternate Interior (725192) | about a year ago | (#45373277)

I would love to spend my money there. But with vendor lock-in, they won't sell books in the format I want. So what I would like to buy from them is knowledge. But they won't sell it, they give it away.

Re:Time for a different business model (1)

DrEasy (559739) | about a year ago | (#45373263)

I think that's a great idea. The ability to browse physical books in a nice environment is a service that I'm willing to pay for.

Re:Time for a different business model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373271)

So, I say, charge me cover. Heck, charge everybody cover. $2 to come in

I've always (voluntarily) viewed the coffee shop portion of a bookstore as achieving this to some degree. Many will buy e-books, etc., after browsing the physical books, but then stay and sit to use the wifi or read said book. Buying a cup of coffee is a nice way to give a few bucks to a store that helped you browse for new reading material, so I do it.

I think if you forced a $2 cover, nobody would go in stores anymore. They'd just take their chances and order a book that they aren't sure is good.

Re:Time for a different business model (2)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#45373743)

They'd just take their chances and order a book that they aren't sure is good.

I'm hoping that eventually authors and publishers will wise up and allow booksellers to distribute free previews, at least for fiction books. I love Baen's model, which allows me to read the first few chapters for free. I know that what I buy seems to be good (it could still fall apart later, but with a few notable exceptions -- Neal Stephenson -- most authors who can write a few compelling chapters can hold my interest for a whole book), and I actually end up buying more because I start reading for free (no barrier to entry), then get hooked, then buy the book... and then the next four.

The Baen Free Library takes this concept to another level, with perhaps even greater success at sucking money from my wallet and making me quite happy about it.

Jeff Bezos is a latent homosexual (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373147)

I suggest you avoid using the Amazon(r) Kindle(tm) since it will turn you into a poofter.

Kindles, not kidneys (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year ago | (#45373187)

I read that first as "kidneys" and I'm thinking, "ya, they'd probably see some repercussions from that."

As for the actual, much less serious issue, I don't know about the bookstores' reservations. The people you're luring into the store are obviously interested in touching a Kindle before buying it and/or want it right now instead of tomorrow or next week on their doorstep. I'd think this overlaps with the population who'd see a physical book they wanted and also decide to buy it right now instead of ordering it online. They're probably also people who would buy certain books in e-reader format but not others.

Besides, if a corner bookstore sells a Kindle or not, customers will get them if they want 'em. This way, they got them in the door. Retailers of all types complain of customers "showrooming." Is it as bad as they say? I've bought something in a bricks and mortar store I thought I was just going to look at -- "it's an extra five bucks here, but I feel impulsive now!"

Bookstores need to shape up (2, Interesting)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year ago | (#45373199)

If bookstores want to stay in business, they need to level the playing field. Requiring sales taxes on internet purchases was a good start, but only a start. For example, Amazon isn't forced by the cities to overbuild its parking lots as brick & mortar bookstores are.

Bookstores also need to adopt Amazon's business model. Amazon has low storage costs (warehouses in rural areas) but has to ship individual packages to each customer, while bookstores have high storage costs but ship everything to the store by freight. Bookstores could downsize their physical presence, keep most of their inventory in inexpensive rural warehouses like Amazon, and offer free overnight or 2-day shipping to the store, no membership required.

So there's still room for innovation, if bookstores are willing to learn from the competition.

Re:Bookstores need to shape up (2)

dcollins (135727) | about a year ago | (#45373287)

"Bookstores could downsize their physical presence, keep most of their inventory in inexpensive rural warehouses like Amazon, and offer free overnight or 2-day shipping to the store, no membership required."

So I get to travel to the store twice and not even view the product in the meantime? I guess?

Re:Bookstores need to shape up (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year ago | (#45373321)

If it's at the store, you could just buy it there.

Re:Bookstores need to shape up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373703)

A tax on books cannot improve the book business for anyone. Oh right, taxing books is to fund education. Book stores have no reason to exist, except perhaps to serve a particularly idiotic clientele. They should specialize in high-priced novelty/coffee table books that no one wants, but which are amusing to give as presents, pop-up books, cookbooks, ladies fiction, and other junk like candles, Godiva chocolate, tampons, balloons, Red Bull, and switchblades.

Re:Bookstores need to shape up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45374101)

and blackjack, and hookers!

Re:Bookstores need to shape up (1)

vectorious (1307695) | about a year ago | (#45374147)

In the UK at least book stores do have an advantage over Amazon Kindle - for unknown reasons VAT (sales tax) at 20% is chargeable on ebooks, but not on dead tree books - so the ought to have an advantage there - Amazon also has it selling paper books over the internet, but that is not instant delivery

Re:Bookstores need to shape up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45374529)

Wrong. "Level the playing field" is big biz PR speak for "Do what the Big Box stores want, when they want it."

Amazon, Walmart, and the other big box stores are some of the biggest supporters of the Marketplace Fairness Act, which aims to make small businesses like wee bookstores collect sales taxes, not on physical location like how we've had, but from every state.

Internet taxes raise taxes while putting the impressive costs of compliance on every business out there, and also leaving less money in the hands of consumers. That aint going to help bookstores.

Kindles last more than 2 years? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373219)

What electronic device lasts more than 2 years? They have to buy new devices, if you've built the love of your customer over the past two years they'll come back, and you get their royalties for another 2....

Kindles and Book Stores (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373231)

Readers are smarter than that and book store owners should be too. I don't patronize book stores anymore. If I did however, I'd have an axe to grind with Amazon and wouldn't be an ebook person. If a book store owner doesn't want to profit from the sale of a Kindle, he simply doesn't sell them. Sorry, non-issue. To each his own.

Take the handout, dumbasses (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | about a year ago | (#45373233)

Your industry is falling from under your feet. Buying paper makes just about as much sense an putting 2 quarters into a filth phlegm & piss covered phone in a cold plexiglass & metal booth. Take the fucking handout. TAKE THE HANDOUT.

Re:Take the handout, dumbasses (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373313)

Except that in 2-3 years, I can still read the paper. I don't have to worry about the durability of the machine, the license details and whether future versions will unsupport to delete previous purchases\\\\\\\\\ rentals. I also don't have to pay an upfront cost to read the books or worry about batteries or charge state.

If somebody's a pot-boiler, read once kind of reader, then suitably priced e-books would be a win. Such prices don't exist today. For other readers, e-books don't work. They're either mis-formatted or merely unavailable.

Re:Take the handout, dumbasses (0)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about a year ago | (#45373427)

That may all be true, but you're outnumbered a hundred to one, so it really doesn't matter.

Dead tree books are doomed, completely and utterly doomed...

It is just a matter of time. We could debate how long that will be, 5 years, 25 years, 50 years, but doomed they are.

A handout of poison? (1)

Uberbah (647458) | about a year ago | (#45373339)

This offer will directly undercut what remains of their business model. Someone might be a dumbass here, but it's not the shop owners.

Re:A handout of poison? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373785)

So if they don't take the offer, they'll stay in business, right?

You're losing the customer anyway (2)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about a year ago | (#45373363)

Customers are increasingly looking for ebook editions. If the customer can't get what they're looking for, do you think they're just going to shrug and buy whatever the bookstore wants to stock instead? Nope. They'll shrug, go home and buy the Kindle off of Amazon's Web site and go ahead and buy the ebook editions like they were planning to. Either way, the bookstore's lost their business because the bookstore isn't selling what the customer wants to buy.

Bookstores are going to have to figure out a way around this, or go out of business. No third option. If I owned a bookstore I'd be seriously looking at how I could work with Amazon and the Kindle store. The big attraction of bookstores has always been that customers can look at the books before buying, but Amazon can do that through their Web site with previews. The other big attraction has been bookstores with knowledgeable staff who can help customers select books. That, though, means the bookstore can't hire college kids for minimum wage to run the register. It might take a complete shift, from "bookstore as a place to buy books" to "bookstore as a place to browse and discuss books". Kind of like a coffee shop with a better reading library. It may be that there isn't a way for bookstores to remain in business without ceasing to be bookstores. But bookstores are going to have to accept the fact that electronic delivery of books has irrevocably changed their business.

I'd note this may go for publishers too. It's hard to get into print unless you're already a successful published author. The only route is self-publishing through Kindle or the like. But if an author's successful enough through that route to attract a conventional publisher, what's going to happen when that author very reasonably asks what they need a publisher for at this point?

Do you want to jump ... (2)

jamesl (106902) | about a year ago | (#45373457)

... or would you rather be shot.

We make a little on their e-book purchases, but then lose them as a customer completely after two years.

The way things are going now, they're going to be out of business in two years anyway. Maybe they can hang out with the guy that had the hardware store before Home Depot came to town. Or the people with the health food store before Whole Foods. Or the stationary store before Office Max. Or the printer before Kinko's. Or the computer store before Dell.
 

amazon assisted suicide alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45373571)

Your alternative to Amazon assisted suicide is Amazon unassisted suicide.

Who browses at a bookstore and then buys via Amzn? (2)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about a year ago | (#45373583)

I get the model where you go into BestBuy, look at the TV, listen to the stereo and then purchase online.

But what does browsing for the book on the shelves get you over searching Amazon.com? You still get the same 'about the author' and plot taglines on the back...

Maybe there's some nostalgia that people enjoy walking through the stacks and prefer to read via eReader. For those people, the bookstore will die anyhow because no purchase will ever be made via the bookstore.

These bookstores need differentiate themselves from eReader providers just like movie theaters differentiate themselves from watching at home and Netflix. Movie theaters provide a service you don't have at home (a 100ft screen and a huge wattage sound system, and stadium seating).

Bookstores need something as well, book clubs (how do you keep people from joining the club that purchased the book via amazon), social gatherings, something...

All of these businesses died because the physical location couldn't differentiate itself from the delivered direct to home version:

*Arcades
*Video Rental shops
*Computer stores (CompUSA etc..)
*Bookstores

Re:Who browses at a bookstore and then buys via Am (1)

captjc (453680) | about a year ago | (#45374425)

But what does browsing for the book on the shelves get you over searching Amazon.com? You still get the same 'about the author' and plot taglines on the back...

Well, for starters, most books aren't shrink-wrapped. I can pick it up, leaf through it, and start reading to see if it hooks me. Sure some of Amazon's books give a sample chapter maybe even a "Take me to a random page" function but it isn't the same as holding it in your hand.

I must be missing something (2)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about a year ago | (#45373817)

Isn't this the plan where the store that sells the Kindle gets a cut of all purchases made thru said Kindle? So that kickback expires after two years. Sell them a new kindle and reset the kickback clock. There's always a new reader coming out with new features, more storage, better display, etc.

This reminds me of that thread a year or three back where it was pointed out that book publishers need to realize that they're in the business of selling content, not paper. Paper is a content delivery/storage/display method. Kindle is the new paper in this scenario.

Paper books had a pretty good run. Over 500 years by my math. Now the business model is changing. Bookstores can find a way to change with it or they can bleed money until they go bankrupt. Their stubbornness isn't going to change reality. If they want to keep selling paper, they need to shift their physical inventory to publications that can't easily make the transition to electronic distribution. Large format books with lots of pictures. Art, atlases, photos, etc. Take the leftover space and stock it with readers (only from companies that will give you a kickback) and accessories. Put in a coffee/tea counter, comfy chairs, fireplace, etc. Fast WiFi, charging stations for devices. Have "meet the author" nights and "get the most out of your reader" nights.

View (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45374043)

As Obama hoped you wouldn't notice how bad a deal Obamacare is, so Amazon hoped store owners wouldn't notice the scam amazon were pulling on them.

Ye Olde Bookseller in the 21st Century! (1)

The_Revelation (688580) | about a year ago | (#45374421)

As someone who needs to read a lot for their job, I find the definition of a book does not necessarily imply a square block made out of slivers of paper. In fact, any of the things like that that I have obtained in recent memory suffer due to lack of portability - I don't have enough additional carrying capacity to keep a book geographically close to myself for times when I want to read it.

If only there was a way for book stores to sell digital versions of the text with the item.... just like they did 12 years ago when I last had to buy an assload of textbooks.

To be fair, I don't own a Kindle. Why would I? I have notebook computers and smart phones and tablets, projectors and text-to-speech applications. Hell, even graphic calculators. I mean, you would HAVE to be blind to actually consider crappy-ass Kindles a realistic threat to your business in the wake of the countless other alternatives to read electronically.
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