Yesterday, we learned Barnes Noble is closing up to a third of its physical stores, a circumstance in and of itself that signals a changing market, not necessarily a departure from the love of books, overall.
Indeed, Barnes Noble closing is a sign of the times and technology, in as much as for better or worse, physical media is becoming obsolete.
And while book fans — a vocal bunch who seem to spend more time posting sanctimonious graphics on Facebook about bookophilia than they do reading actually books — are not too pleased with the news, it is probably actually more a positive than a negative for the publishing industry.
(An industry, I think we can all agree, is in a bend or break moment.)
Anyone who fears the Barnes Noble closing news somehow threatens the publishing industry need only look back at the recording industry debacle that closely preceded it. Technology and advancement for music fans was delayed needlessly by that industry’s failure to accept the inevitable and aggressively adapt, and it’s only in very recent years we’ve seen the models finally catch up to our new capabilities.
In that time, the recording industry lost tons in revenue as well as countless customers who became fed up with an insistence it was either CDs or piracy.
So Barnes Noble closing stores may sound like the end of the world to some — check out what WaPo had to say on the subject yesterday:
“We have been watching you for some time. You are the last hope of the brick-and-mortar bookstore, and at first we were optimistic. We love these places, with the pictures of Great Authors fraternizing on the walls. We attend readings there. We drink coffee there. We go to brick-and-mortar bookstores to do just about everything other than buy an e-reader. This is why your approach, lately, is so worrisome.”
The luddite lamenting the Barnes Noble closing news adds:
“Look, I do not come to Barnes Noble every weekend and purchase several volumes because I am laboring under the misapprehension that Nooks do not exist. I show up and buy because I like physical books. I don’t understand why you are working so hard to discourage this.”
Well, lady, because the interest is growing in ebooks and declining in paper books. No one is moving on from an inferior form of media at you. Lack of understanding can be easily resolved by simply reviewing publishing industry data from the last several quarters.
“I understand, in theory, that it is far cheaper to sell books that require no shipping and restocking. But we do not want to buy that sort of book from you. Amazon has more of them, for cheaper. Besides, if I wanted to buy a Nook, I would already have bought a Kindle.”
But what this writer and countless others so enamored of paper books neglects to admit about the Barnes Noble closing is that the paradigm has already shifted. You may see your local bookstore as a thriving outlet of literature aficionados, but arguing with what is is a losing gambit.
While those steadfastly devoted to print will always remain, those similarly wed to vinyl remain as well. And the writing is on the wall for Barnes Noble, and the closings should be viewed as a necessary step to keep their business model alive.