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Bookstore woes Downunder

For discussion about particular book sellers (brick-and-mortar bookstores, online book sellers, auction sites, swap sites, etc.)
annis
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Bookstore woes Downunder

Post by annis » Thu February 17th, 2011, 6:44 pm

News is coming to hand that major Australian and New Zealand bookstore chains Borders and Whitcoulls are in big trouble. Online and increasing e-book sales are cited as the problem. There is fierce debate here about whether brick-and-mortar bookstores have had their day.

http://tvnz.co.nz/business-news/technol ... es-4033223
Last edited by annis on Fri February 18th, 2011, 2:27 am, edited 2 times in total.

SGM
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Post by SGM » Thu February 17th, 2011, 7:45 pm

[quote=""annis""]News is coming to hand that tmajor Australian and New Zealand bookstore chains Borders and Whitcoulls are in major trouble. Online and increasing e-book sales are quoted as the problem. There is fierce debate here about whether brick-and-mortar bookstores have had their day.

http://tvnz.co.nz/business-news/technol ... es-4033223[/quote]

I sympathise. Borders in the UK closed the Christmas before last, having taken over several other small chain bookstores in the process of development. Borders was a very convenient for me to shop in but I always noted when I did drop into Waterstones, that Borders had a rather lowest common demoninator policy in what it stocked and, I felt, not so good at stocking UK writers (except for the blockbusters) as Waterstones. But having said that they certainly changed many aspects of the bookstore experience which luckily still remain (at least in London). For example, 11 pm closing time and three for two.

Although Borders and Books etc (one of the companies they had bought out) continue to exist online, and I use Amazon, it is not the same, despite the instant gratification of buying for Kindle.

I try very hard to make sure that I buy regularly from sources other than Amazon to the extent that I have an ebook reader for Epub books as well as a Kindle so that I have a choice. Daft, I know, but we do what we can. Browsing the bookstores is still my favourite form of shopping.
Currently reading - Emergence of a Nation State by Alan Smith

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Thu February 17th, 2011, 8:45 pm

It was just announced this week that, here is the US, Borders is closing 200 stores and facing bankruptcy. However, GE Capital is investing in them, and that's seen as a good sign; GE Capital is a savvy outfit and doesn't throw its money into losing causes.

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princess garnet
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Post by princess garnet » Fri February 18th, 2011, 2:48 am

I saw from an article in today's "Washington Post" a few stores around the metro DC area will be closing by late April.

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Mello
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Post by Mello » Fri February 18th, 2011, 5:37 am

[quote=""annis""]News is coming to hand that major Australian and New Zealand bookstore chains Borders and Whitcoulls are in big trouble. Online and increasing e-book sales are cited as the problem. There is fierce debate here about whether brick-and-mortar bookstores have had their day.

http://tvnz.co.nz/business-news/technol ... es-4033223[/quote]

I’m just not surprised about it. With the cost of a new release in Australia varying between $25 and $40, if everyone is not buying online from overseas, they are fools with their money. With our Aussie dollar now at parity with the American dollar, I can buy from Amazon, get charged their exorbitant shipping and still pay less than a local bookstore! I mostly use Book Depository though for the free shipping. It is still a shame though – Borders has some really lovely stores that I like to browse in.

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Fri February 18th, 2011, 6:54 am

[quote=""Mello""] It is still a shame though – Borders has some really lovely stores that I like to browse in.[/quote] Every Borders I have ever been in -- and Barnes & Noble, too, for that matter -- always seems to be busy. Although obviously foot traffic doesn't always translate into sales. Especially with their liberal browsing policy. (I can understand it with books, that's what book shopping is all about, but magazines?) And their cafes are very popular reading and social places, always busy. But they certainly can't support their large retail spaces just with the revenues from their small cafes.

I do hope that the bricks-and-mortar bookstores find a way to survive. Bookstores have such wonderful environments not to be found anywhere else (even libraries aren't quite the same). Although if they do fail I'm as much to blame as the next person, since I rarely buy a book from a physical store anymore. :(

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LoobyG
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Post by LoobyG » Fri February 18th, 2011, 4:49 pm

I too try my best to buy from bookshops, but I find Waterstones so terribly expensive - even with their 3 for 2 offers I can nearly always get the books cheaper from Amazon or second hand bookshops. I do love the atmosphere of a new bookshop though, that new book smell! Ahh :)

annis
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Post by annis » Fri February 18th, 2011, 7:18 pm

I don't think you can turn back the tide- digital is the way of the future, though there will always be a place for real books as well as virtual ones. As with the music industry, it's often businesses who refuse to accept change and change their business models that fall over.

The main issue for us in New Zealand (and probably for Australia as well) is how this will affect our writers and relatively small literary scene. Local branches of the major publishing companies play a huge role in getting our authors published and promoted. E-sales and lack of major bookstore chains will inevitably mean that publishing houses will withdraw their presence overseas and centralise.
Last edited by annis on Fri February 18th, 2011, 7:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Fri February 18th, 2011, 7:32 pm

[quote=""annis""] Local branches of the major publishing companies play a huge role in getting our authors published and promoted. [/quote] It is pretty amazing how little New Zealand has always attracted the major publishers (especially since Australia is relatively close by). When you look on the title page of a book published by a big-name publisher, under their name it always says something like: "New York - Toronto - London - Sydney - Auckland" How is that, do you think? Just curious.......

annis
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Post by annis » Fri February 18th, 2011, 9:36 pm

That's an interesting question, Michy. I'm guessing that it's because most of the big publishing companies had their origins in Britain, and with New Zealand being a British colony there were always close cultural ties between the two countries. Right up until about the 1960s it was a traditional rite of passage for New Zealand authors and artists to travel to England and spend time in the appropriate institutions and social circles there, keeping up connections.

Colonials with sufficient means were surprisingly mobile and would frequently pack their steamer trunks and take the slow boat back and forth. For a long time Britain was considered our mother country and was known colloquially as "Home", and it was the ambition of every young New Zealander born here to make the pilgrimage back "Home" at least once. The tradition still lingers in the custom followed by many young Kiwis of going on on their OE (Overseas Experience) before settling down.
Last edited by annis on Fri February 18th, 2011, 9:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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