The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Borders Closing

Borders is closing down. They've been in bankruptcy proceedings since February, and, after unsuccessful attempts to sell the company off, they've decided to liquidate their assets and close all their stores. The key lesson is that the world changes and even the most dominant company can be brought down by shifts in the market. Not only have people been getting more of their print books online, mostly via amazon, but they've also been buying more ebooks and fewer print books, such that ebook sales surpass print book sales (as I mentioned earlier).

As with all changes there'll be some things that will be lost, just as big advantages are gained. This, not infrequently, leads to lots of, usually unnecessary, worrying among some people about that which is lost. Michael J. De La Merced and Julie Bosman write:
The news exposed one of publishers’ deepest fears: that bookstores will go the way of the record store, leaving potential customers without the experience of stumbling upon a book and making an impulse purchase. In the most grim scenario, publishers have worried that without a clear place to browse for books, consumers could turn to one of the many other forms of entertainment available and leave books behind
The loss of serendipity resulting from stumbling upon a book you haven't heard of while browsing through the stacks seems rather silly to me, since amazon has expended great effort in trying to encourage this same type of serendipity. Amazon has its "Customer Who Bought this Item Also Bought," "Bestseller Rank" and "Customers Also Bought Items by" lists as well as its user-generated "Listmania!" and "So You'd Like to..." lists, which are all very useful for finding other books you haven't heard of. All it takes is a little browsing through these links to discover totally new titles of interest

Also the lack of "clear place to browse for books" seems equally silly. Just because people can't walk through a bookstore doesn't mean they'll stop reading books. In fact, one of the reasons that Borders is failing is that people have decided they prefer browsing through an online bookstore from the convenience of their computer. The publishers make it seem like bricks and mortar bookstores have been unwillingly taken from consumers, whereas the reality is that its the consumers who have largely taken themselves out of the bookstores. People browse online. They browse on amazon. They browse on ebooks stores. They get recommendations from friends. They read book reviews online. People browse differently and thy read differently. This doesn't mean there's no demand for books anymore. Just less demand for print books.

So, the world continues to change. Things that were once one way aren't so anymore, and I can't deny that some things will be missed. I have fond memories of browsing through Borders stores and reading stuff I pulled off the shelf. But I, like most other consumers, like getting my books online better.

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