By: Gerald Farquar
Cancel the obituary for the brick-and-mortar book stores.
Despite the gains made by Amazon and other online book sellers, independent booksellers have been gaining ground in recent years, according to Crain’s New York.
Why? Barnes & Noble “has retrenched, the book-buying public has tired of staring at screens, and more real estate developers realize that the neighborhood stores are an attractive retail concept,” said Crain’s.
“After several years in which most news about independent booksellers in New York concerned closures, fortunes are beginning to rebound. Printed books, which account for 72% of industry sales, have turned out to be more resilient than experts had predicted. Net sales revenue grew almost 3% in the first half of the year, to $2.5 billion, compared with a nearly 4% drop for e-books, to $493 million, according to Association of American Publishers’ figures,” it added.
Not that everything is rosy. “For more than a decade, we’ve been hearing about how Amazon has been the death of bookstores all across the country,” noted bookriot.com. “And yet Barnes and Noble has been creeping along for years after the closures of other behemoth bookstore chains such as Borders and Crown Books. But in the last few years, Barnes and Noble, too, appeared to be failing. It is quite true that Amazon still corners more than 50% of the market shares in physical book sales, but is Amazon really to blame for the company’s failure? Or did Barnes and Noble lose sight of its original purpose?”
Indeed, some are seeing a renaissance for brick and mortar businesses of all types. “In an age when new technology and the growth of pure online-only retailers have industry analysts questioning the future of brick-and-mortar stores, what are online retailers doing to grow their businesses and gain market share?” asked techcrunch.com. “Why, opening up physical storefronts of course. The benefits that physical spaces provide make up three of the top reasons why online retailers are setting up shop, including: multisensory consumer experiences, better logistics and consumer service offerings and strong, lasting brand relationships.”
The ascendance of “omni-channel retail strategies in which mobile, online and in-store experiences complement, rather than compete with, one another has ushered in a new era for online retailers,” the web site added.
Even Amazon itself is getting into brick and mortar locations. The company reported just days ago that it plans to debut its brick-and-mortar Amazon Books concept at The Mall at Green Hills in Tennessee.
“I’m not all that concerned about it. I think (Amazon Books) will get impulse buys there,” said Karen Hayes, co-owner of the popular Parnassus Books, in an interview with tennessian.com. “I’m sure we will get a little incremental hit in sales, but I don’t think it’s going to be putting us out of business.”
The first Amazon Books debuted in Seattle in 2015, the site added, “and there are now 19 locations in the U.S.”