Or, Then Again (The Bookstore Numbers Are In)

I’d been looking for an example of an industry that had successfully altered its business model, and defied the onslaught of BEE (Broadband Eats Everything). Stories about the newspapers and the record industries wake people up, but people need positive models to function and get inspired, one can’t run entirely on anti-patterns.

The other day, after reading Clay Shirky’s Social Hubs piece,  I thought I’d come across one – bookstores. True, the e-book and Wal-mart threats to book sales are relatively new. But Amazon.com was one of the first commercial web sensations, widely proclaimed as the death of brick and mortar stores.

Yet the stores are still here, right?

Well, kind of:

books_2
(via www.fornerbooks.com)

I don’t know enough about the industry to say much worthwhile, but those curves up there start to look a little like other industries, ones that muddle along thinking they have dodged the bullet, that the “internet thing” was all just hype, a passing fad – and then boom – the decline begins.

On the other hand, this looks a much softer landing than the newspaper industry — you don’t see a 68% reduction over 8 years here.  The initial effects seem to be muted by the fact people are reading (and watching and listening) more than ever. It’s not quite the zero-sum game a daily newspaper tended to represent.

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