Recently went to my local Books A Million store and boy was it a bit eye-opening! Take a look and see why!
No, this obviously isn’t happening right now with virus cases, as expected, surging once again in most of the US and world. What happens in the next few months will give us all an idea of what to expect in 2021.
What I really want to talk about is bookstores. It was less than a decade ago that Borders closed its doors, mostly on account of e-books. Barnes and Noble and Books-A–Million (the two largest chains remaining in the US) have been struggling for years before the pandemic took customers out of stores. Half Price Books (my personal favorite) seems to be okay because if their doors are open, then they can buy books from the public.
Months ago I told my brother I thought JCPenney and Barnes and Noble would close for good. So far, I’ve been wrong. All the bookstores around me have been reopened since the spring. That doesn’t mean customers have returned or will be doing so. Though we can still buy online, there are lots of people unemployed or furloughed. Books may not be at the top of the list of needed items.
I’ve gotten this far and haven’t mentioned indies. They are probably the most likely to shut their doors during the pandemic. They can’t host author events and even when open, customers may not return.
Recently I was thinking to myself about Half Price Books not having their 20% storewide or coupon week promotions. If you’re familiar, then you know both of these promotions bring in lots of customers over several days. They’ve moved their sales to their website, which isn’t my preference. I was thinking to myself about the few dollars I could be saving if they’d had their promotions. But what’s important is that they’re able to survive (along with all the bookstores around). That won’t happen, but at least they’re still fighting, like many in the country.
To answer my own question, yes I think there will be bookstores next year. The real question is how many.
Y’all should know by now that Amazon opened its first brick and mortar bookstore just recently in Seattle. They claimed to use their years of online book selling to create the best of both online and in-store shopping.
Now we’re hearing about more stores on the way. This isn’t surprising in itself until you hear the number of stores they’re preparing to open. I’ll give you a minute to guess because I imagine you’re original guess will be just as good as mine.
Reports have surfaced claiming Amazon is preparing to open 300-400 bookstores. Am I surprised they’re looking to expand their bookstore presence into other cities? No. Am I surprised by the number of stores they’re looking to open? Yes. Very much so.
A little perspective on that number. Barnes and Noble is easily the big man on campus when it comes to bookstores in the United States. They operate more than 600 stores. Then we have Books-A-Million at more than 200 stores. And I believe Half Price Books comes in third at over 100 stores. Amazon would jump right to the second spot. And I think they’d mostly damage Books-A-Million. Why? Well Half Price Books is a completely different kind of bookstore. They’ve weathered the move to digital and back to print very well. Barnes and Noble has huge stores with Starbucks coffee and tens of thousands of books, and their print business has remained profitable for some time even while the Nook threatened the existence of the entire company. Yes, it was that bad. And Books-A-Million is REALLY struggling. There have been rumors for some time that the company may go private. They’ve also started directly competing with Half Price Books with their 2nd and Charles store.
Amazon looking to open more of its bookstores isn’t all that surprising to me. It gives more people the opportunity to try out their devices before buying AND it gives them a chance to increase their market share. I think the move will be successful, but I think both Barnes and Noble and Half Price Books will be just fine. Books-A-Million cannot like this news one bit.
What do you think of Amazon potentially opening 300-400 more bookstores? My main thought is for them to put one near me! Hehe.
I’ve been very outspoken about a particular book that was released just a few months ago. You know it. Go Set a Watchman. I have no desire whatsoever to open the book. None. Now I have more to say about it.
Recently the second largest bookstore chain in the US (Books-a-Million) made available some signed, collectible editions of the book. They look fairly nice. Only 500 were printed. I think most of you all didn’t plan on reading the book, but obviously many people have. So now it all comes down to price. Because some will buy Harper Lee anything, no matter the circumstances.
This collector’s edition of the book costs $1500. I can get the original hardcover for like $7 at work, and I think those seven dollars would be money well wasted. Why someone would pay $1500 for THAT book is beyond me. I have doubts as to whether or not she even really signed them herself.
Tell me you wouldn’t consider ever buying this thing.
Last year sometime I asked about favorite bookstores. But I was talking more about Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Borders, Books A Million, or whichever major chain you have near you in which you get your books. But now I’m only talking indies.
I have to first be honest, I very rarely shop in my favorite indie bookstore. It’s just too expensive for me. I buy all of my books new, but doing so there would be ridiculous. So there, that’s out of the way.
My favorite is a store called Murder by the Book in Houston. It’s been around since the 80s and they host a couple hundred author events every year, mostly for crime writers. And these events are well attended. I’ve only been to two, but I’ve seen pictures of others in which there were people lined up outside. Besides all the events the store hosts each year, one of my favorite aspects is the feel when you walk in. I mean, the Barnes and Noble a few miles away from me is nice. I just went for the first time in over a year last week. But it still has that store feel. At least for me. Murder by the Book feels more…like your neighbor’s house with a lot of books. I think. It’s hard to describe. And the people are rather nice.
Anyway, that’s all about my favorite indie bookstore. Here are a couple pictures from inside Murder by the Book.
Tell me about your favorite indie bookstore.
Photo Credit: BookRiot
There once was a time in which a reader had many options as to where to buy his or her next book, at least here in the US. We had Borders, and Barnes and Noble, a number of indie bookstores, Book-A-Million, and then of course, Amazon. Okay, that wasn’t quite as many as I thought, but let’s move on. I’ve pretty much gone through every bookstore I have over here at some point in time.
Way back in my high school years when I first started buying books for myself, I’d go to Barnes and Noble and do what millions of others do everyday, I’d find my next book. I wouldn’t go with a specific author in mind or a book or anything. I’d just browse the mystery section and take a chance on something that caught my eye. But this didn’t last. Barnes and Noble charges full list price for books, and I can’t be the only one who doesn’t have eight or nine dollars every time I want to buy a paperback. So I switched.
Then came the days of going to Borders. This was in the year or two leading up to their bankruptcy. They would email me coupons every week for 30-40% off any item. I mean, yes, please! AND if they didn’t have the book in store, I could order online and have it delivered to the store for free. I remember getting several books for a whopping $5.21 after the discount. I know I’m an author and all that, but you CANNOT pass that kind of deal up. But then the company closed its doors and I made a dash to the store located about seconds from my house. I think I bought five books that day.
Then came Amazon. See, I knew I didn’t want to go back to Barnes and Noble, but I’d never bought anything from Amazon before. My apprehension soon faded when I realized that Amazon had a buy 3, get fourth free deal on millions of paperbacks! It was almost too good to be true. But I took advantage of this deal more times than I can possibly recount now. And I thought four books at a time was the perfect number. But then like all good things in life, the deal came to an end. It was roughly at the start of 2013 or the end of 2012 that they did away with the deal. I’ve read on forums that people were livid that Amazon could do this. I wasn’t all that upset, Amazon is a business, right? Imagine the millions of free books they’d given away during the time of their promotion.
Then came another switch. I’d known forever that Wal-Mart sold books online, I’d even bought one before several years ago. But I never knew how cheap they were! Wal-Mart was cheaper than Borders (with their coupons) and Amazon with the 4-3 deal. How!? Around the holiday season last year, they ran a promotion in which all books available in their online store were 40% off. That meant that most titles would drop to $4.79! Yes, I was in heaven. And yes, I bought a lot of books before that promotion also eventually ended. Now I’m back with Amazon. But I no longer buy three or four books at a time. Mostly just one or two. Which is fine since I’m hardly reading anyway.
So now you know my journey through all the bookstores I’ve known, what’s your favorite bookstore?
Photo Credit: Fork Shoals School
Down here in the lone star state Spring Break has officially begun. This is the first time since 1997 that I’m not in school during the holiday week. I’m not complaining. But I know others in my age group (18-22) who are still in college and will be celebrating the week off from school. There will be countless parties to attend, too much alcohol consumed, trips to other parts of the country, and who knows what else. I’m not discussing the traditional Spring Break for the typical twenty-something, I’m talking about Spring Break for the book lover!
Do you typically get your books from Amazon? Or Barnes and Noble? Or Books-A-Million? Or maybe on your iPad or Kobo device? I don’t care where you get your books from. I don’t. But tell me what better for you to do than browse for some new books starting right now and getting through them before you have to return to school? There is not a thing better. So if you’re a book lover, and I’m betting that you are, then get your mouse clicking or get to your local bookstore and find you some books to read this week!
By now you’ve done your browsing and buying, right? Better have! Now find your regular reading spot and get started! There’s no point in getting your hands on some fresh books to have them sitting there in your ‘to-be-read’ pile. Honestly, that makes me angry when I see blog posts about having stacks and stacks of books ‘to-be-read.’ I mean, come on. So don’t be one of those guys. Get your new books out of the bag or the trusty Amazon box and get started reading. Now.
Do you happen to be a writer too? Perfect. You’ve left your manuscript sitting there on your computer screen far too long. That ends right here, right now. I’ll acknowledge that most writers are probably done with school with regular jobs and don’t get off of work this week, BUT I’ll also tell you that you’ve done made all the excuses to not get back to writing that you can possibly come up with. Open the file. Take a deep breath. Write. It’s that easy. You may not have the week off from school like all the kids, but you need a kickstart to get back to your writing, and this is it. After all, no agent ever agreed to represent a manuscript that never made its way out of the ‘first draft’ stage, right? Right. Now write.
If you reach Thursday and you’ve read four books, written ten chapters in that great manuscript of yours, and you find yourself wondering what to do…then start from the top and REPEAT!
Before I begin I would first like to make it known that I am a huge fan of Amazon. The paperback edition of my book is sold by CreateSpace and the Kindle version is sold by Kindle Direct Publishing, which are both Amazon companies. But I’ll try to be objective.
I’ve read several articles recently about the impact that Amazon has had on the publishing industry. Most often the takeaway seems to be that Amazon is not good for books for a number of reasons like the discounts they receive from publishers or how low they’re able to sell their e-books. There are plenty more but there’s no need for me to be exhaustive at this point.
Jeff Bezos started the company all the way back in 1994 as a bookstore. In the 20 years since then independent bookstores have been cut in half and the mega-chain Borders has shut its doors. But is it really smart to blame Amazon for both or either of those? Maybe. But what about the fact that indies were always under fire from big chains like Barnes and Noble and Borders? Or what about the fact that most indie bookstores have no place in the e-book market? Amazon is constantly blamed for the failure of indie bookstores in recent years, but there’s always more to it.
Several articles estimated that roughly seven percent of all of Amazon’s annual revenue comes from books, which puts the number around $5 billion. It’s easy for critics to throw that number out there and make a fuss about Amazon’s bookselling practices because they seem to be doing it better than any other company at the moment. But let’s think about what they’ve managed to accomplish to help the reader. First, the customer will never pay list price of a book on the site, no matter if it’s hardcover or paperback. Compare that to walking into your neighborhood Barnes and Noble bookstore and paying exactly what it says on the back cover. Second, the selection that Amazon is able to offer is far and away the most vast there is in the world today. Most readers have experienced the turmoil of wanting an obscure book that may be long out of print only to find that Barnes and Noble doesn’t have it online or in-store. And third, if Amazon didn’t have a place in the bookselling world then what would stop Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million from selling books at cover price. Or Kobo or Apple from selling e-books at higher prices. I mean, all four companies already struggle to compete with Amazon in the book marketplace, but they are competing.
Amazon also has several publishing imprints that operate just as any other traditional publisher and back the most lucrative book writing contest in the country, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, which gives its grand prize winner a $50,000 publishing contract along with several $15,000 publishing deals given out to the genre winners.
Lastly, Amazon revolutionized the publishing world with its Kindle. No company has been able to develop an e-reader quite like it, which is why Amazon holds a roughly 67% percent e-book market share.
I’m not here to defend Amazon, but I would like for the site’s critics to be fair. Amazon’s competition in the marketplace helps drive prices of all books down for the reader. They changed the publishing world when they released their Kindle e-reader which has evolved into a full-use tablet comparable to any other. And they offer a selection of books that no other company can. So if I had to answer the question as to whether or not Amazon is good for books, well I think you know my answer by now. Yes.