Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Local Bookstore Closes; Blames eBooks

Recently, the owner of a long-standing local book store announced the store's closure. He blames the onslaught of online book retailers like Amazon, the insurgence of large, warehouse-style chain stores like Chapters, and the new-ish ebook format for killing his business.  

"We could continue to fight," he said. "But in the end we stand no chance."

This got me thinking. It makes me sad that this man, his family, and the nineteen employees who made a living (or perhaps a portion of a living if they worked part-time) at his book store now have to search elsewhere for their income. This particular store was a touchstone in this city for many years and technology, whether better or not (that can be debated) has created a new world for them.  A world in which the book store as we know it will be gone. Simply gone.

My personal belief is that a quality ebook reader plus the equally-usable infrastructure for buying and downloading the content which populates the reader can actually be a better fit for most book readers, but there is still a sadness at the passing of this torch.  It's not unlike a modern-day version of the Pony Express being killed by the invention of the telegraph machine.  I like being able to access four million books at my fingertips instead of only twenty-five thousand, the one I really want being on back-order for up to eight weeks while it ships from Albuquerque.  But it's still hard to watch those ponies put out to pasture after they ran so fast and so hard in their prime.  What beautiful, lithesome creatures.

The ebook seems to be doing the same thing to the traditional book binding and selling business as downloaded music has been doing to the Sam The Record Man and other brick and mortar record shops.  I can only wonder if wider bandwidths and the increasing availability of high definition video will mark the beginning of the end for movie theatres and cable TV providers.  What do you think?


  1. > I can only wonder if wider bandwidths and the increasing availability of high definition video will mark the beginning of the end for movie theatres and cable TV providers. What do you think?

    It might cause problems for the long-term viability of TV providers. Movie theatres, on the other hand, are safe as long as couples want to go on dates.

  2. Sure, there's no denying the social aspect of "going to the movies" but the social aspect of sitting in a book store and sipping a coffee while you peruse a best seller, a magazine or read the local paper is also strong for many people, and still, it is dying away because the stores themselves are no longer sustainable.

    If a theatre has to start charging twenty dollar admission and ten dollars for popcorn to cover the empty seats of former movie-goers who are now at home in front of their 1080p screens watching downloaded content, then the people on dates may opt to stay home too. When it becomes an eighty-dollar night out not including dinner and the TV costs me twelve hundred plus a few shillings for the digital entertainment each night of the week, I simply can't see the local theatre staying viable. Perhaps the giant IMAX and 3D offerings will be enough to help stave off the inevitable end but not forever.

  3. Great description/comparison with the Pony Express. That analogy has much more heart and emotion than comparing the switch to digital with the horse and buggy.

  4. Yeah, I like that comparison, too. I always liked the similar emotion behind the movie, "The Postman" with Kevin Costner. The movie itself wasn't stellar but just the center ideal of it-- which I liken to the waning years of the Pony Express--had something to offer.


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