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Bookstore Death Predictions Continue

‘Half the Bookstores in the Country Will Close’

By Chris Beveridge     November 16, 2010
Source: ICv2

© N/A

Reality is overtaking science fiction and end of the world stories. With many end of the world stories out there, characters invariably spend time going through malls and other stores to see consumerism gone dead. Yet with the way the landscape is changing, that may be alien itself come these events some day as another type of store is about to go the way of the dinosaur, as many point out.

ICv2 is reporting on a story about the closure of several stores in a chain and highlighting other news about it. THe chain, which operated about nine stories, has filed for chapter 11 with plans to close just under half of its existing stores, citing declining sales. Joseph-Beth Booksellers President Neil Van Uum said that, “I think in the next three to five years, you’ll see half the bookstores in this country close.” Sales are bad all around in a lot of areas and Publishers Weekly reported that book sales were down considerably in both August and September of this year.  Year to date book sales were down 2.6%, according to the report.

This will continue to be a serious impact on the manga world as there are fewer and fewer outlets for books to go into and less ability for the casual consumers and your general buyers to get hands on with the product to make a decision. This continuing trend is coming at a time when book publishers are seeing a growing and significant demand in the book market and are starting to focus more of their energies there. Competition will be fierce this holiday season with ereaders from several name players and some book sellers directly involved in that part of the market as well. Like other markets that have undergone the transition to digital, that side hasn't made up for the losses in the paper book world yet, but it is shifting that way sure enough as access and ease of portability gains more acceptance among casual buyers. Hardcore paper book fans will continue to be marketed to for some time to c come, but expect it to start looking more like the Laserdisc market of old.

With manga, the publishers here are definitely behind the times but are trying to catch up as we see various efforts both in Japan and the US. What it all lacks, something that the book publishing industry has for the most part gotten, is a unified format that allows reading on multiple devices. Manga sales and distribution are only going to get tighter and we're going to see a lot of options and storefronts and formats thrown at consumers for awhile. Until it all shakes out, it's easy to see many fans simply taking themselves out of the equation and letting it go where it may. 

Comparatively, it's worth watching the US comic market to see how it's handling things as the transition there is very similar and the companies have been rather proactive in the past year. Though they don't have to deal with overseas license issues like US manga publishers/licensors, there are still considerable royalty and ownership issues that they have to take into account so there are large walls for everyone to overcome.

Will the manga publishers achieve it? Watching the way so little is really out there at the moment and a lack of a real sense of purpose to achieve the core needs of readers with ease of access and portability, they're likely to first lose a large percentage of consumers before figuring it out and having to start from a reduced fanbase again.


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Calibur454 11/16/2010 8:16:58 AM

This is hard times on bookstores within the past year and a half several stores have shut down. especially in malls. However I figure that Barnes And Noble and Borders will continue to thrive.

Sure mom and pop stores will come and go but that is to be expected

Richard J. 11/16/2010 3:30:30 PM

The problem in my opinion is the lack of discretionary funds.  The price of living keeps going up, the cost of electricity is set to soar and the value of things people own like houses have dropped.  It's just getting harder to live without a big paycheck and getting the education to get the bigger paycheck is getting prohibitively expensive.

It's just a bad situation all over.  The more physical stores close, the fewer jobs.  The fewer jobs, the fewer consumer dollars to spend.  Inflation is being promoted by the Fed right now but that's going to make things worse for the working poor overall.  It's just bad times and they're going to get worse.

spence34 11/17/2010 3:33:04 PM

More BS hype.  The market is simply changing.  Stores that adapt stay, those that don't close.  We had 3 stores close in my area and 4 open in the last 2 years.  Net gain. 

They were nashing their teeth, beating their chests and ripping there hair out over the certain and total end of the music industry just a few years ago because of eMusic.   


Things change and people adapt.  Try finding a typewriter store these days.....



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