Borders and Angus & Robertson just don’t get it. Today they announced in the Sydney Morning Herald that they had to lay off more staff in their head office and are worried that they may have to close down the remainder of their bookstores if they can’t find a buyer.
But who do they think is going to buy them out?
Don’t they don’t realise that the whole print book business is a dying industry? It would be like someone investing in typewriters when the world was embracing computers, or video tapes as DVD became the home movie standard format.
While there will always be printed books, the book industry as a whole is changing.
According to the statement today, Ferrier Hodgson is “urgently seeking offers from potential buyers of all or part of the Angus & Robertson or Borders networks”. “If we are unable to find a suitable buyer, the Angus & Robertson and Borders stores will be closed”.
I think it’s time to brush off your resume Hodgson. You might need it very soon.
Already the stores have had to let go of over 1500 staff across Australia and over half of bookstores both here in Australia and in New Zealand have already closed.
So why is the book industry crashing down around us?
It’s a fairly simple answer and it all comes down to cost and preferred formats. While there is no arguing that holding a real print book in your hands is wonderful, often it’s just too expensive. In Australia just two years ago, the average price for a new nonfiction book was $24.95 and a new fiction book around $19.95.
Now you can get those same books around half the price on Amazon, or if you own an e-reader like the Kindle even less.
Why would you pay $25 for a book when you can get the same copy for just $10 on the Kindle. Or perhaps you want some bedtime reading, then many indie authors are selling full fiction works for as little as 0.99 cents. Yes 0.99 cents for a book.
Of course price isn’t the only reason many people are choosing e-copy’s over the print copies. It’s also convenience.
Instead of trudging to the bookstore trying to find a book to buy you can peruse an online bookstore purchase your book and have in on your reading device within seconds.
Most people who own a Kindle now say that they won’t even consider buying a book unless there is an electronic copy of it.
I’m not saying that print books are going to go away. But they are becoming a niche product and only speciality bookstores are going to prosper – not your large book chains like Borders and Angus & Robertson.
You might be wondering what I think about all this since I’m an author with a print book coming out in September (and another one not far away if the kids ever let me find the time to finish it).
Actually I think this is a wonderful move. I’m embracing the future of books and right now it’s an exciting time to be an author.
While I’m sure I’ll sell less print books, that doesn’t worry me as much as getting out electronic versions of my book to reach a larger audience.
Let’s just hope my publisher knows a good pricing strategy or else this September book will be screwed!