My first thought when I read it Tuesday morning in the New York Times http://nyti.ms/dEthVh was – what took so long? The bookstore market has been shrinking for years and to have these two companies beat each other up for a declining market share just seemed stupid. While the idea is not new it took William A. Ackman’s track record to get people’s attention and interest.
What’s also interesting is that Google recently announced http://nyti.ms/hNVvqO that it is set to open an E-book Marketplace. The timing of both of these news items is probably not a simple coincidence.
I like going into bookstores (either Borders or B & N as the customer experience in both places seems similar to me) but don’t go all that often. And bookstores continue to offer a very different feel from libraries although if libraries start serving coffee and food I wonder if they will further their growing usage across the United States. (Some libraries do and many university libraries already do…)
My son likes to go to Borders and check out the latest Manga which he can read in the store – without purchasing – sort of like a library. The bookstore employees expect this as you can find many people reading books in the store that don’t necessarily purchase anything. This might seem a bit odd but the overall atmosphere is good in both Borders and B & N and that laissez-faire attitude is appealing to people and contributes to why people like to go there to browse.
Another thing I like about those mega-bookstores is the ability to get a free wireless connection. Again something that is very appealing and makes people want to go there and spend some time reading, working, maybe drinking coffee. And sometimes they might even buy a book.
The news had both company’s stock prices on the rise and that’s also no surprise. Calling off a war will surely offer opportunities for cost savings as a shared effort to offer a vastly different experience as opposed to that of Amazon’s Kindle and other e-reader companies (Barnes & Noble has its own e-reader called the ‘Nook’) should offer some protection from new competition in the bookstore marketplace. I’ve wondered for a while why libraries also do not offer books for sale. Think about it – why not?
E-books are great and here to stay and that market will continue to grow but printed books are also here to stay. I don’t think consumers are ready yet for a world without bookstores where books could only be purchased online or taken out at the library. So I hope that the union of Borders and B & N is a long and successful one.
One last question – with all the business reading I do and all the content available to read online I find it so difficult to take time to read as many books as I’d like, so I ask how many books do you read per year?