Wednesday, 4 August 2010

bookstores are dying ...

News from the Guardian that Barnes and Noble are up for sale.

That and the demise of Borders in the UK are a warning that the big bookstores are dying as they are squeezed both by ebooks and the economies of scale possessed by online retailers.

Back in 2007 I did a very simple analysis that showed it was often cheaper to buy books new in Australia than second hand from overseas. Well that was then, this is now.

I have now rerun the study, with the following results:
  • buying new from a discounted overseas seller can be cheaper than the local RRP
  • having books shipped from Amazon in the US is only slightly more expensive than ordering them for mail order delivery from Borders in Australia
  • Abebooks is cheaper for second hand, principally due to Amazon's marketplace shipping fees. Amazon marketplace books often have a lower sticker price and higher shipping
  • Bookdepository in the UK remains the cheapest for new books from overseas
And anecdotally, based on looking the Civic and Belconnen branches of Dymocks, and the Borders shop in Civic, traditional booksellers seem to be playing safe and buying, and carrying more conservative stock, at least in Canberra, meaning having to order by mail from Borders for specialist books is overtaking rocking up to a bookstore

Doing this moves the long tail online, and into e-books, which could be dangerous as I have the suspicion that the long tail buy more books overall, and once they start buying online they stay online ....

Still havn't seen anyone offering a print on demand service for e-books yet, but Borders did offer to sell me Penguin classic electronic editions for around $12 a pop, which is competitive with second hand shipped internationally...

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