Bookstores are disappearing for two reasons: they can't compete with Amazon.com, and print books are being replaced by ebooks. These two threads are part of almost any discussion of book publishing and the book business. However, recent trends suggest that both beliefs may be wrong.
Kristine Rusch in an excellent post on her blog The Business Rusch, describes The Changing Playing Field.
First, she finds that the bookstores, rather than dying are experiencing a resurgence. She cites a recent report in National Real Estate Investor titled Brick and Mortar Book Sellers Gained Shopper Traffic in the First Three Months of 2013 which says:
In spite of the intense competition from digital book sellers, bricks-and-mortar bookstores were among the top gaining categories in shopper traffic in the first three months of the year, behindplanning shops and bars. Bookstores as a group experienced a 27 percent increase in shopper visits during the period and moved up six spots in Placed Insights’ ranking, to number 46.
Barnes & Noble in particular moved up eight spots on the list of the most visited stores in the U.S., to number 17.
Says Rusch, that’s “Great news for all of us who write and read, in my opinion. The print book, which still remains anywhere from 70-90% of the market for book sales (depending on which statistic you’re looking at this week), is alive and well and its death has been greatly exaggerated.”
It’s also news that should cause many writers to reassess plans for upcoming books. Is abandoning bookstores for exclusively online distribution a wise choice? Similarly, should authors print only in ebook formats or should they pursue paper versions as well? Spending some time looking at new data on the business of selling books like that which Rusch covers so well in her blog would be advisable for any author looking for commercial success.