Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Borders Bankruptcy: 200 Store Closings Point to the Rise of E-Books

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Borders Bankruptcy: 200 Store Closings Point to the Rise of E-Books

Article excerpt

Borders bankruptcy may not be a good sign for brick-and-mortar businesses, but the outlook for the written word is still good, some say. The Borders bankruptcy became official on Wednesday.

The news of the Borders bankruptcy Wednesday may send a shiver up the spine of those who love the feel and smell of a "real" paper book in their hands. But to the pros who make a living from book sales, it's just another sign of the new digital days that are transforming the industry of the printed word.

While the expected closing of some 200 Borders bookstores may indeed be a gloomy economic indicator for brick-and-mortar businesses, more than a few prognosticators say the outlook for the written word is still good.

People need to understand the role of bookstores in the book- business food chain, says Antoinette Kuritz, a literary development agent who directs the La Jolla Writers Conference of San Diego. "Bookstores are basically consignment shops. They put books on their shelves and only pay for those books when they actually sell through to a customer," she says. When it comes to physical books, she adds, "publishers have been taking a beating for years."

The transition to e-books cannot happen fast enough for those looking to actually make money from publishing, she says. E-book sales jumped 164.4 percent in 2010, to $441.3 million, for the 14 publishers who report sales to the Association of American Publishers' monthly sales program.

Brick-and-mortar stores that go to where their customers are will be the survivors, says Scott Spiewak, CEO of Fresh Impact Public Relations in Seattle. He has focused on the book market for 14 years and says the biggest change for booksellers is understanding where their customers are. These days, he says, that is online or on a mobile device, whether that is an iPad, an e-reader such as a Kindle or a Nook, or a cellphone. …

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