Monday 12 December 2011

The demise of the big bad corporate bookstore?

I'm halfway back, everyone! I still haven't had much time to read, in fact I probably have even less now than last week, but here I am. ;-)

Anyway, back to business. I wanted to ask you all where you purchase the bulk of your books from? Do you buy them at a discounted price on websites like Amazon, do you prefer secondhand, or can you afford to pay full price for them frequently? Or are you a dedicated eBook buyer? Sometimes I wonder how big corporate bookstores like Waterstones and Barnes & Noble can keep going with so many competitors out there providing cheaper and, in the case of eBooks quicker, alternatives. A friend of mine told me that Waterstones is actually in some trouble at the moment due to falling sales, which may have something to do with them discontinuing the 3 for 2 deals and offering things like 25% off selected titles instead.

But is that even enough? Take my visit today, for instance. I was in Waterstones and saw An Idiot Abroad by Karl Pilkington had 25% off retail price, so I was seriously considering getting it. But then I thought, wait a minute – there's an Oxfam bookshop just a few doors down – what if they have it there? And you know what, they did and it was only £2! Yes, it's a used copy, but what a saving right? That's the thing – Waterstones don't offer any secondhand books, unlike charity shops and most independent bookstores, and this could be one more dagger the way I see it. Hell, even Amazon are starting to offer secondhand books now. There used to be a time when I'd say, 'forget it – I'll just pay full price', but what I tend to do now is try to convince myself otherwise, and I usually end up taking down the title and author of the book and looking it up online. I don't have the money to pay £9 for one copy now. Well, unless my impatience takes hold and I decide need it right away!

Then there are eBooks. Personally, I'm not a big lover of eBooks – I love cover art and the feel of paper in my hands, so I think I'm always going to be a paperback/hardback girl, but it's no secret that this market is growing in popularity. They're even selling eReaders in Waterstones now, which I find a little hard to understand. Why have eReaders in amongst all the shiny paper copies if you want people to focus on buying the latter? All I can see that doing is distracting.

What do you think? Will you continue buying books for full price, are you a secondhand purchaser or an eBook lover? Or what about getting loans from the library? I just think stores like Waterstones are becoming redundant, especially in the current economic climate. Don't get me wrong, I love browsing these big bookstores – all their different floors and neatly arranged shelves, their sofas and coffee shops. But, unfortunately for them, I'm finding myself feeling much less inclined to pay full retail price these days.


Suzanne said...

I really think bookstores are going to be taken over by online shopping. Kindle prices are cheaper & easily accessible. Even buying online through Amazon is usually the first place people go via Twitter & Goodreads to find new books. I love browsing but I don't see myself buying a lot in the store anymore. They're all closing down anyway, sad as it is.

Leah said...

It makes me sad to see where a lot of book purchases are going. I do occasionally purchase from Barnes and Noble and Amazon, but I much prefer a second-hand bookstore. Hopefully it's enough to keep the small bookstores in business :)

Bridgett said...

I think there's a market for both. My decision always depends on why I'm buying. If I need a small business consulting book, I would go with print. If I want a novel to read during commute, I'll get the ebook.

Cody said...

i still wish more small bookstore would-be owners file LLC. The more competition available, the better the services and offerings (at least theoretically).

Josh said...

The business of paper books is quickly dying. They are becoming more of novelty items nowadays specially with the emergence of tablet PCs that made ebook reading more convenient. Publishers can opt for lowering the prices of their books to stay in business.

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