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Barnes & Noble fights back

A New York Times article puts Barnes & Noble – and its next e-reader – in the headlines.

(Page 2 of 2)

Running through the entire piece, however, is an undercurrent of gloom for the books industry, positing the end of a world with bookstores.

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“These are trying times for almost everyone in the book business,” Bosman writes. “Since 2002, the United States has lost roughly 500 independent bookstores – nearly one out of five. About 650 bookstores vanished when Borders went out of business last year. No wonder that some New York publishers have gone so far as to sketch out what the industry might look like without Barnes & Noble. It’s not a happy thought for them….”

Not everyone is taking it on the chin.

“[T]he biggest problem with the article, starting with its title, is the thesis that the bricks-and-mortar bookstore is dying,” writes industry newsletter Shelf Awareness, calling the prediction “dated.” It goes on to point out that the indie bookstore closings represent only “roughly 50 a year, and doesn’t take into account either the ‘natural’ closing of stores or the opening of new stores or the addition by existing stores of new locations.” Indies, writes Shelf Awareness, “have an influence far beyond their number.”

That may be, but after the Borders closings, Barnes & Nobles, for many Americans,  is the only place, save for public libraries, where readers can browse aisles at will and stumble on new literary gems. (Which, of course, publishers count on to sell books.)

“Anybody who is an author, a publisher, or makes their living from distributing intellectual property in book form is badly hurt if Barnes & Noble does not prosper,” Macmillan CEO John Sargent told the NYT.

Make that readers, too.

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

Join the Monitor's book discussion on Facebook and Twitter.


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