Tuesday, 27 March 2007

The great Borders sell-off is mentioned by Perry at the blog Matilda. I mentioned it a few days ago. A couple of weeks ago I also mentioned that British book chain Waterstone's would shut up to 30 stores.

Now, the blog of Nicholas Clee on The Guardian's Web site is commenting on the shift in purchasing habits away from the big chains and toward the huge discount retailers and Amazon. Clee didn't mention AbeBooks, but he should have.

There is also regular notice of closures among independent bookstores, especially in the U.S.

Books are extremely easy to sell online because of the power of an author's name. Say 'Ian Mcewan' or 'Salman Rushdie' and an afficionado knows immediately if the new release is suitable for them. Our tastes are, to a certain extent, circumscribed by this type of branding.

Then there's the literary prize, which can catapault a new author into the ranks of the 'most-recognised'.

Blogs also play a role in brand management. A recommendation by a trusted blogging source can guarantee dozens, if not hundreds, of sales. Publishers are starting to understand the value of blogs as marketing vehicles.

Online booksellers also have strong brands and may offer sophisticated tools that can recommend new titles or authors to regular customers. These tools will become more and more sophisticated as time goes on and as online retailers put more money into maximising sales.

The closure of the Waterstone's stores and the sell-off of Borders' U.K. and Australasian outlets seems to be part of the process of realignment that all industries will eventually face. Books were one of the first commodities to be sold profitably online. They are now the first to undergo a major shift in distribution methods.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you posted this today. Last night I was reading Gerald Murnane's essay The Secret Writer, in which he mused on the years in which he was not known... but he made the observation in the essay that he would not only like his own books to be printed without a name but all books. He said that we were all far too discriminatory in our reading habits. Peter Carey may well be our national brand of clothing or motorgoods, or Winton... sounds like a brand of a toffee.

Obviously a reader would be able to discern a book by Orwell from a book by Dan Brown (generic bad writer)... but I really feel ashamed that I might not be able to make decisions between good literary writing and the bad without having previously read it in an article or review. I do, however, believe that I would read much, much more, from a wider range of writers (at least I would think I was, not knowing exactly who I am reading). At least it takes the ego out of it...

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Ron said...

As I commented on Nicholas Clee's post, I just cannot justify paying double the price for books to support a bookshop as much as I would like to. And, more often than not, the overseas Internet supplier has hardcover editions which were never made available in Australia for much, much less than the Australian paperback edition.

If the difference was a dollar or two, then it wouldn't matter.

Also my favourite online bookseller in the UK sends books to Australia by free air express mail. I can get books faster from them than I can from Sydney just 90kms away.