Feb 19, 2011

Books without Borders

If a shop like this can't sell books, who can?
I rarely watch the news, but it was hard to avoid this week. Two big chain bookstores here in Australia are in deep financial trouble. Borders have been facing financial problems for some time and have now taken Angus & Robertson down with them. One of the excuses for this demise has been to blame e-book popularity.

Kind of hard to believe. Since buying my Kindle I've consumed more books than ever before. Not just e-books, I've bought more paper books and a huge number of audiobooks. Book buying is addictive, the more you get, the more you want. I've also shopped in Borders several times and always find it crowded.

Perhaps e-books are starting to have an effect on booksales, but I think it has more to do with the ease of buying books much cheaper overseas. I often buy from Amazon because I can get a lot of new novels under $10 whereas in an Australian bookstore I might have to pay $20-$30. 

There has been a theory that the closing of chain stores will help smaller bookstores flourish. Unfortunately, our little local bookstore 'Little Dog' is also closing down. What do you think the problem is? Are e-books taking over and bookstores need to adjust, or is there a slack in book interest?

If you want more on this news here are some links:
The Book Show - also available on iTunes, you can download the radio show.
Sydney Morning Herald - Borders, Angus & Robertson go bust. Includes video.
Canberra Times - Discusses Borders' announcement that gift cards purchased will not be accepted unless the user spends at least twice as much as the voucher.


  1. I'm worried about my daughter's job, she works at Borders.

  2. Hi Niki, rumour is that some stores will stay and Borders will focus on their busier stores, which will mean job losses for those not in the lucky stores. I hope your daughter is okay, or that she finds an opening before the store decides to close. Fingers crossed for her :-)

  3. I don't buy paper books much anymore. I can't justify the cost when I have a Kindle. Why drive to the store when you can get most books you want in a minute. I think the world of publishing will be electronic because that's how the public (especially the younger public - the next generation) want it. Sadly, I think all of the reasons you give are correct.

  4. I've heard this said (mostly by the ABA who really has their heads in the ground) that this will open up opportunities for the smaller shops again. No no and no. The small shops have been the first to go, and it wasn't because of Borders or B & N. Walk into a Barnes and Noble and what is the first thing you see? Their Nook display table with a guy paid full time to answer your questions and sell you a Nook. Clarissa (comment above) is 100% right. It's going to be e books. Print books can't compare to price and convenience, not to mention storage.

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