B&N and Borders going out of business is just one of the possible results of the recent Walmart pricing strategy ($8.99 hardcover) for their top 10 bestsellers.

So what happens next?

It seems pretty obvious that if these two chains go out of business then every publisher will be dramatically cutting their list. How many book titles does Walmart sell in a store? 100? There's no way publishers could publish the number of titles they do today if B&N and Borders brick & mortar stores didn't exist.

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Barnes & Noble is doing okay -- expected to report a profit, even for the current, recessionary year. Walmart can't drive them out of business with this promotion.
As always, someone entreprenueral (did I spell that right?) will find a way to compete.

A bookstore, or even authors selling direct, will have a very difficult time competing with Amazon, Walmart, B&N or Borders on pricing or distribution. You simply can't do it.

However, across the nation there are small businesses that manage to compete. When Walmart opened a store in a town where I was the newspaper publisher, I came across a couple of surveys. One stated that when a Walmart opened, it took about 33% of the market away from the town's business. Another study indicated that well over half the businesses that were driven out of business by Walmart were operating at a loss, or on a month to month basis (the equivalent of paycheck to paycheck), and a good stiff breeze from closing as it was.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not a walmart fan.

However, there are, in "walmart" towns, plenty of businesses that thrive. Here in my town, we have a super walmart. We also have an independent grocery store, an indy department store, another indy clothing store, etc.

Bookstores - speciality and niche shops - along with specialty and niche book sales web sites, can fill a void if they are run carefully and offer something the big boys don't.
This could be where the Espresso Book Machine bobs to the surface- any book, any time, in 4 minutes. I'm hearing more and more about it.
I have always had a sneaking suspicion that the people who buy my books would spend 25 bucks as readily as they spend 14. People on a budget go to libraries.
I think you are right. I don't mind shelling out the bucks - Last weekend, I spent well over $100 at the Southern Festival of Books buying books I'd never buy (or probably find) at B&N or Borders.

As an example, I'm currently reading from the festival Wealtheow: Her Telling of Beowulf by Ashley Crownover, published by Iroquois Press. I'm enjoying it very much. That is the advantage of independent shops and alternative outlets, such as book festivals. I can meet the author, chat, look at books - and eventually buy books - I'd never find in a bookstore.

And, I think there are plenty of folks like me. I don't mind shelling out the cash for a good read. To me, it is an excellent investment, doubly so since my teen-aged nephew and neices are reading much of what I've read...and hand down to them.
Thanks for this, Thomas. It's good to know there are folks out there who get it.
I read R. R. Bowkers reported last year only 21% of books were bought online, so the rest are purchased in our local book stores, big and small. It's a comforting thought.
Ah, but keep in mind that only a few years ago that number was 12%.
The American Booksellers Association has fired the latest salvo in the battle over the $9 hardcover by sending a letter to the U.S. Justice Department accusing Walmart, Target and Amazon of predatory pricing. Apparently, it's illegal to price a book below cost in France, but I doubt that the Justice Department can make it illegal here.
A lot of it would depend of how the "cost" of a book is calculated. Publishers have always claimed a lot more than simply the printing, and rightly so, goes into a book.

In this case, really, the key would be these are pre-sales, just orders to be filled. That has to be cheaper to produce than a huge print run, shipping to bookstores, returns shipped back and then remaindered or pulped.
It does smack of price fixing, which is supposedly illegal--though of course it happens all the time.
Won't make any difference to me -- I shop at my local indie bookstore, Bookpeople.

MK
www.minervakoenig.com

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