You’ll have to find a print copy or pay to read online Prof. Ken Moore’s opinion piece “Meeting the reading revolution” which appeared in the Sunday July 17 in the Daily Gazette (Schenectady, NY). Moore, who is professor of strategic management at the University of New York at Albany, recounts how he recently found three books that he wanted to read in a Barnes & Noble (total $69.91 including tax), bought them online instead from Amazon ($43.50 including shipping) and sold them back on Amazon for a net cost of $16.10. While he could have saved a few bucks if he’d purchased the e-book editions, then there’s no mechanism (currently) for re-selling e-books.
Prof. Moore argues that independently-owned bookstores (IOBs) are better equipped to face the e-book revolution than the chains. Why? Small stores do not have the overhead costs of Borders and B&N. True, but they face other challenges, including not getting the same discount publishers offer the big box stores, and they have the challenge of e-books.
Some IOBs now offer e-book sales via their websites – a smart move. Another way they can compete is to specialize. They can invite local authors to do readings/signings and sponsor other events such as book clubs. Some IOBs might try to compete with Amazon by buying used books and selling them in their stores and on their websites. IOBs can also specialize. In a state capital for example, books about state history and government should do well; in a rural community, books about rural life should sell and so forth.
Owners can try other methods – frequent buyer cards, memberships, sales, etc. – to get people into their stores.
Prof. Moore notes that students are driving the e-book revolution. In recent years the cost of textbooks skyrocketed. Today, e-book editions offer some relief. More changes are on the horizon. Having more flexibility does give IOBs an advantage when competing with the big guys, but not all will survive.