The current news is Borders book stores are history. They're talking about cutting down from about 600 stores down to 50--and that might not be enough to survive. Gosh! It does look like the only place to buy a book is either at Barnes&Noble or at Amazon.

This can't be good. But how in hell do you start up and run an indie-type bookstore and survive?

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Quick! Use those gift cards!
B.R. -- Actually, the CEO was talking about closing down some of the Waldenbooks stores, not Borders, and even there he was talking long-term, about maybe eventually getting down to 50-60 Waldenbooks over the course of some years.
Uh, well it depends on which report you read. AOl has an interesting headline predicting 12 retailers that look like they're dead critters in the not too distant future. And Borders is listed. I know they're shutting down Waldenbook stores in a lot of markets--you can say goodbye to the only retail book store in my city--but some stories say that these cuts won't be enough for the parent company to survive.

As they say in the old serieals. . . "Stay tuned for the next installment."
I thought most books were sold at Wal-Mart and Costco.
The horrible thing about that it that the big box stores carry only a limited number of titles, all of them best sellers.
It's true that noone knows for sure what'll happen with Borders, B.J. -- but the story you were referring to was the CEO talking about Waldenbooks.

And, John, it's also true that for some books, the big box stores are the biggest sellers. But as I.J says, that's only for a limited number of titles, the ones they choose to take, and most of them are high-volume to begin with. For most books, the big box stores aren't really a factor.
Neil, Could you explain what you mean when you say "for most books, the big box stores aren't really a factor"? Does this refer to Chris Anderson's "long tail," thousands of books that sell an average hundred copies or less?
Simply that, as I.J. says, they stock only a very limited number of titles in their book sections -- books that they think they can sell large enough quantities of to make worth stocking, instead of using the same space for, oh, mayonnaise. Most big box stores have only a relatively small space devoted to books, so they have to perform. For big authors, you can sell a ton of books that way, so I'm glad to have 'em. Most books, however, don't meet the level these stores need -- which is why these stores aren't really a factor for them.
Could this have less to do with Amazon books and more to do with iTunes? Maybe a better question to ask, B.R., is how an indie-type music store could survive.

In my downtown, we are lucky enough to have both an independent music and book store. They stay afloat because people won't let them die. They'll pay to keep it local.
Actually I think an indie-type bookstore, with the right business model, could do well in an environment like this. With the big box stores leaving markets right and left, a small indie store--or maybe a regional-sized chain---could move in and do well.

On-line sales are wonderful--but it can't beat the ambiance of getting out of the house and going thru rack after rack of books
Let me modify my last statement: rule out 'big-box store' and insert 'big-chain book stores.' With the demise of large nationa chain bookstores, the possibilities of a vibrant regional chain to rise up from the ashes seems very real to me.

I still belive that size alone is a killer. At some point in time a corporation, frankly, just gets to damn big. It fragmentes--loses direction--and cvan't possibly earn enough to sustain itself whenever there is an extended down turn in the business cycle.
I don't know about other cities but in Toronto we have some indie specialty stores that are doing well - Sleuth of Baker Street for crime books and Bakka Books for sci fi and fantasy.

The staff at the specialty stores really know their stuff and handsell a lot of books. The chain stores we have in Canada often do a good job in some departments with staff that know their stuff but not always.

More specialty may be the way to go for indie stores. But even those stores are now doing a lot of their business online.

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