If Barnes and Noble collapses, it’s the death of books

So argues Ted Rall, who knows a thing or two about media today and publishing:

Borders and Barnes & Noble killed independent bookstores. Amazon killed Borders. Now Barnes & Noble, which sells more than 20 percent of pulp-and-ink books in the U.S., is under siege.

If B&N collapses: the death of books.

Cultural apocalypse.

Neo-feudalism.

You may remember such classics as “How the Internet Slaughtered Newspapers” and “How Napster Decimated the Music Business.” It’s always the same story: Digitalization destroys profits.

Whether it’s newspapers, magazines, CDs or books (“pBooks,” they call them now), the electronic assault on tangible media follows a familiar pattern.

Rall lays out four factors:

1)    Margins are squeezed: e-whatevers are cheaper (seemingly) than print, disks, etc. 

2)    Pirary and copying runs rampant (already 20% of ebooks are pirated). 

3)    A la carte sales (buy the song, not the album) reduce revenues. 

4)    Lack of visibility degrades consumer interest in books, records, newspapers, etc.  

Ben Enrenreich googled the phrase for the L.A. Review of Books and got 11.8 million choices. It's not a crazy idea at all; it's well-understood to be happening. 

My belief is that the future of books will be half-academic and half everything else, and serious non-fiction will have to find its way into the library. Won't be easy. 

Deadbook

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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