Posts Tagged With: Borders

“Death of the Bookstore Was Greatly Exaggerated”

With the growth of e-books, the demise of Borders and the shrinking of Barnes & Noble, some thought the bookstore was on its way out. Personally, I disagreed with that sentiment: Anything that skyrockets so fast (e-books) can only come down, the big chains had over-saturated with too many (and too big) stores, and no matter how good on-line shopping becomes, one can still peruse far more books, faster, in person. Sure, I like the best of both worlds, and considering Amazon is opening brick and mortar stores, they get it too.

Lev Grossman wrote “The Death of the Bookstore Was Greatly Exaggerated” in the June 30th issue of Time on the growth of independent bookstores and their sales, at the same time big chains continue to contract. He mentions this revival of indies is in part due to “…new technology [that] makes things like accounting and inventory management easier for small stores. The growth of social media makes it easier to promote events. The demise of the Borders chain in 2011 had the effect, in some markets, of taking competitive pressure off indies.”

Another major part of this growth, I think, is that book buyers have always supported bookstores and the market has never shrunk quite as much as claimed. Borders didn’t simply fail because no one was buying books, they failed more from a poor business model. Barnes & Noble should survive — and I hope they do — if they continue to return to their roots. In other words, they need to be their neighborhood bookstore, not seen as just a big chain.

Authors aren’t overly concerned on how you read their book, on paper or on a screen, but we may have now reached a balance in the market of options. However, Grossman says it best when it comes to the old-school way:

… the paper book – a piece of information technology that has, after all, been tested and honed over the past 2,000 years – has declined to give way that easily.

Categories: Books | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Freedom vs. Politics

The United Sates was founded by immigrants. Generation after generation of immigrants came here to escape oppression, war, violence and to seek a better life. Both those immigrants, and the citizens that live here, don’t want the evils and problems that they left behind to follow them here. The laws of our nation have kept those concerns at bay.

Yet now, politicians who only care about clinging to power and making a name for themselves (from both parties, by the way), seem to show little concern who is entering the country.

If you want border control or background checks, you’re called anti-immigrant. If you oppose en masse amnesty to illegals, you’re a racist. If you don’t support unlimited refuge to hordes of people, you aren’t humane.

If you believe any of these things, see how being humane is working out for Europe here, here or here.

Violence. Rape. Terrorism. Cover-up.

But don’t just believe the media reports, see it in their own words or this impassioned message from a German girl. Continue reading

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Not Worried About Ebola?

I am a bit baffled and disturbed, that months after the Ebola epidemic started raging across Africa, we are still letting people from those areas into the U.S. If you are not baffled or disturbed, I’m thinking you don’t understand what Ebola is.

What it is not is the flu or measles. You have the flu and cough in a room full of people, most won’t even get sick, let alone die. You have Ebola and cough in a room, many may get it (no immunities) and, well, the fatality rate puts this disease somewhere above anthrax (which doesn’t spread very easily without sophisticated help).

While I’m sure there are plenty of dedicated people working around the clock to fight this disease, the laze-fair doctrine of non-existent control of our borders and who enters the country is ripe for a deadly scourge. The open borders, by some studies, is at fault for the recent re-emergence of other disease outbreaks — though none of the killing caliber of Ebola.

Many will say, “It’s only two or three, we can handle it.” Perhaps. But two or three can infect hundreds. This isn’t the chicken pox. You don’t give your kids some lotion, wash your hands a little more often, and go about your life. No, you and everyone you have been in contact goes into isolation lock-down and those who contact the disease fight for their lives.

The only way to stop a disease like this is to take it seriously.

Books like Germs and The Dead Hand detail the insidious nature of diseases like Ebola and, while many were worried about nukes, governments tinkered with weapons some argue are worse. Lab 257 reveals that even the knowledge of what bio agents can do, we didn’t always take them seriously. These books, while focused on biowarfare, hinge on what many viruses and bacteria are capable of doing in nature and among populations (the history of biowarfare research will be eye-opening to many in a troubling sort of way). Then take a look at the movie Contagion for a realistic depiction of what a widespread outbreak could look like.

We can discount, dismiss or explain away what the politicians do or don’t do because of our political preferences. Or we can hold them all accountable to their fundamental purpose: Defending borders, whether from disease or man. Or both.

So technically, if you prepare and take precautions, you no longer have to worry (if you had been to begin with). This is a winnable battle, but decisions now will decide how costly it will be.


P.S. Many people have taken the either-or approach: Either “The media is just hyping Ebola” or “They’re under-reporting it and you need to be in a bubble.” People like to gravitate to extremes, often in emotional response to another extreme. What I am promoting here is simple: Don’t pretend Ebola is just the bad flu or some African disease, and taking simple precautions is common sense. Also, don’t be one of these people who say, “Oh, thousands die from the flu every year, so why worry about Ebola?” Other than that the “thousands” claim is a spurious stat, look at the mortality rates. Mortality rate of flu viruses: Less than 1% (effectively zero), Ebola: 70%.

Categories: Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Indie Bookstores “Rise Again”


According to the American Booksellers Association, the number of member independent bookstores has increased more than 20 percent since the depths of the recession, from 1,651 in 2009 to 2,094 in 2014. Meanwhile, Borders went bankrupt in 2011, and the fate of Barnes & Noble, which failed to make the Nook into a viable e-reader competitor with Amazon’s Kindle, appears murky. What happened?

Independent bookstores never had to answer to the dictates of public markets. Many of their proprietors understood, intuitively and from conversations with customers, that a well-curated selection—an inventory of old and new books—was their primary and maybe only competitive advantage. In the words of Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, “The indie bookselling amalgam of knowledge, innovation, passion, and business sophistication has created a unique shopping experience.”

In other words, the Big Guys got too big too fast and tried to be too much to too many people. People want bookstores, not warehouses.


Categories: Books | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Barnes and Noble: The New Local Bookstore?

While authors rely more and more on ebooks and internet stores to reach their audiences, bookstores still deliver millions of books to readers. Many readers, like myself, like the best of both worlds. The ease and savings of home delivery pioneered by Amazon is unbeatable, but no matter how good they are in linking you to other books, it’s still easier to browse in a bookstore. Rarely do I walk in a bookstore and don’t find something new. So why did Borders go under? And now Barnes & Noble is announcing more store closings.

Much of the bookstore industry’s woes have been blamed on the growth of ebooks. An equal, if not bigger, part of the problem is that the chains got too big, too fast, especially Borders. Barnes & Noble had the superior model, better selection and stayed closer to a local bookstore feel. But it too became too big. It entered the ebook reader market a bit late. With the demise of Borders, however, it’s essentially the last man standing. Its recent announcement is only a continuation of ongoing plans to stay afloat. I predict it will succeed, if it takes steps to return to its roots. Be more focused and become known as the local neighborhood bookstore, rather than the local national chain bookstore.

Many retail stores are getting this concept. And while Borders vanished, and Barnes & Noble started cutting, indie bookstore numbers stayed steady. What can B&N do to become the new face of local for readers? Here’s my plan:

1. Make that regional and local book section more prominent. Expand it. Make your store the one stop place for anyone looking for local authors and books on area subjects.

2. Ditch the cafes. Never stepped foot in one. You’re a bookstore. Yes, there’s people who like to hang out in them, so farm them out to someone else. Like Panera Bread.

3. Indie books and indie presses have grown rapidly in recent years. Ebooks are their main outlet because they still operate outside traditional distribution networks. Change this. Get their books in your stores.

4. Ditch the music and movie section. If ecommerce has hurt book sales, it has done more so for these other two. Save a spot for local artists, toss the rest.

5. Enough of the $20 membership fee. Virtually no one charges for their loyalty cards.

6. Keep cutting unprofitable stores, but don’t pass up chances to open new, smaller stores in areas with a bookstore vacuum.

7. The kids learning toy section and the games area are the best non-book items you have. They are better quality than what we find in department stores. But how many people know you sell this stuff? Your kids book section blows everyone, even Wal-Mart, away. Tell people.

8. Stay on the forefront of the ebook revolution. The initial growth may be hitting its peak, but they’re here to stay.

9. Overall, your selection, style, arrangement and size of stores isn’t bad. Use your strengths as a national chain, but operate like a local store. Each market is different. Be able to respond and provide at an individual store level. Let them know you are there.

Be like the stores of old. Books will never die, nor do you have to.

Categories: Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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