Wondering about books…….
What does the impending demise of Borders mean for other stores, and for the book industry? First, though Borders’ executives say they can keep going, their creditors believe otherwise. Borders is closing 200 stores (5 in metro Atlanta) and its ability to add new stock is diminishing. So will book-buyers head for their local independent — as many of us hope — or to Barnes & Noble, the surviving big chain operation? Or will everyone fold their tents and get online for Amazon?
Wish I knew. But the larger question is really what’s about to happen to books in general. Is the physical book yielding to its digital cousin? The rapid growth of e-readers like the Kindle and ipad and other devices suggests this phenomenon is happening now. Publishers are realizing this and trying to figure out how to best sell their product in coming years (and they’d better figure it out quickly while we still have books around us).
I’ve always been adamant about the primary of the physical book. Until I got a couple of electronic devices for Christmas. Now I’m not so sure. The convenience of reading a 900-page biography of Georgia Washington on a tiny Kindle rather than the six-pound book is unquestioned, especially if you’re traveling. In other words, technology is changing the book business so fast it’s hard for anyone — including publishers, authors and bookstores — to keep up must less stay ahead of what’s happening.
And yet — at the well-organized Savannah Book Festival in mid-February, thousands of people celebrated authors, bought books and in general had a blast with this “old-fashioned” technology: a real, live book. It was fun to see and to be involved with, and also a bit reassuring, though it is awfully easy to get complacent about where all of this may be headed.
Any thoughts you want to share on this topic? Your forecast is surely as good as anyone else’s, and I’d love to know where you think we’re going.