Monday, May 3, 2010

The Future of Print

Via the New Yorker, a thorough and detailed look at Kindle v. iPad, Amazon v. everybody, print v. digital, & etc. Worth reading.

On a related note, I just spent two and a half weeks on the road in the USA, where I noticed several things:

1. Almost a third of the bookstores that were open when PFB first opened in June 2000 have now closed. Of the used bookstores that remain, most are no longer buying books at all. Sales at those stores, based on my first-hand, limited, and admittedly anecdotal observation, are awful. The few stores that still regularly buy for cash are, like us, seeing more good books than they ever have before, and almost all of their owners told me that they expect 2010 to be their "best year ever."

2. Books @ PFB, new and used, are by and large cheaper than those at stores located in major US metropolitan markets (Seattle; Portland; San Francisco; Las Vegas).

3. Paperback exchanges that only carry mass market paperbacks -- a concept that's always struck me as an incredibly flaky business model -- are done, a victim of rising rents and their owners' reluctance/inability to buy for cash. The survivors' stock, which ranged from great to middling ten years ago, is now uniformly terrible.

4. Thrift stores in the States are now charging as much for recent books as we are. This doesn't make much difference to me, but it should to any bookstore owner whose business model is predicated on heading to the local thrift store first thing in the morning and loading up.