Publishing Industry Afraid Of A Future Without Barnes & Noble

Publishing Industry Afraid Of A Future Without Barnes & Noble

via The New York Times

There was a great piece in the Times over the weekend, about how publishing houses are worried that if Barnes & Noble falls victim to Amazon, it could mean bad things for the book industry. 

You should read the whole story, but here's the gist: Barnes & Noble, a retailer responsible for putting so many independent booksellers out of business, is suddenly the last hope for physical book sales.

Physical storefronts are important for a couple of reasons, like visibility for new authors and the propagation of print books. But the "browsing effect" also plays a big role for publishers. 

From the story:

What publishers count on from bookstores is the browsing effect. Surveys indicate that only a third of the people who step into a bookstore and walk out with a book actually arrived with the specific desire to buy one.

“For all publishers, it’s really important that brick-and-mortar retailers survive,” said David Shanks, the chief executive of the Penguin Group USA. “Not only are they key to keeping our physical book business thriving, there is also the carry-on effect of the display of a book that contributes to selling e-books and audio books. The more visibility a book has, the more inclined a reader is to make a purchase.”

John Sargent, the C.E.O. of Macmillan, went on to say that "anybody who is an author, a publisher, or makes their living from distributing intellectual property in book form is badly hurt if Barnes & Noble does not prosper.”

There's a longer conversation to be had here about how publishers might have a bit less to worry about if they adopted better contracts for authors, and eBook pricing schemes that weren't completely insane, but still, the story raises some good points. You should go check it out

And after you do, why not come back here and talk about it in the comments? Specifically, do you think the fears on display here are legitimate? How would you feel if Barnes & Noble went under? 

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NotMarilyn's picture
NotMarilyn from Twin Cities, MN is reading Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn January 30, 2012 - 6:48pm

Without "the browsing effect" possibility, we can almost guarantee that the marketing duties of authors will grow exponentially. I suppose for self-pubs who only market through the internet anyway won't be too effected. But those authors who are actually able to land a traditional publishing contract will see a huge change in how marketing their book is handled. 

dxarmbar06's picture
dxarmbar06 January 30, 2012 - 8:59pm

Let BN go out of business, then all the indie bookstores can come back and we'll actually have some good literature out on the market, not the same eight firestarters that BN sells.

Jason C's picture
Jason C from Quad Cities, Iowa is reading Growing Up Dead In Texas by Stephen Graham Jones January 30, 2012 - 11:21pm

The indies will not thrive with B&N gone. It will be a slow death for them as well.

laurenmlamb's picture
laurenmlamb from Kansas City, Missouri is reading Monster Island January 30, 2012 - 11:32pm

I'd be out of a job. That would suck.

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters January 31, 2012 - 10:58am

Yeah, if B&N can't make it, then a small independant store has no chance.  They can't compete with B&N, so they really can't compete with Amazon.

Jason C's picture
Jason C from Quad Cities, Iowa is reading Growing Up Dead In Texas by Stephen Graham Jones January 31, 2012 - 12:45pm

Government bailout anyone?