Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

December 9, 2009 -- 1:28 a.m.

Joshua Bilmes did a kind of Borders vs. Barnes and Noble business analysis on his blog, which I find kind of interesting. When I was younger, I dreamed of owning my own bookstore, so seeing a window into that process fascinates me.

If you haven't heard the news, Borders UK just went under, which worries me because it may portend bad things for Borders USA--though they say that the UK collapse won't effect the U.S. branch, which its hard to tell if they're just reassuring shareholders or if that's really true. I try to support independent local bookstores whenever I can, because while I have nothing against B&N and Borders personally, I have fond memories of curling up in my favorite low-lit, dusty bookstores, petting the cat dangling off some shelf as I walk by. To keep those sort of places in business, I'm willing to pay a little more.

Sherman Alexie did an interesting interview on the Colbert report to that effect saying that he refuses to have his books published on the Kindle because e-books can put independent local bookstores out of business, which I hadn't really thought about before. I'd thought about e-books changing the nature of publishing, but not the nature of bookselling. Which is, I suppose, why I'm a fantasy author instead of a science fiction author--sometimes the ramifications of new technology escape me.

Whether I personally buy local or not, I'm still glad that Borders appears to be improving its situation financially because I don't like the monopoly of power that I've heard B&N has developed re: book covers, titles and other publisher decisions. It's amazing how large of an effect one of their deciders has. While a B&N stocking choice won't always make or break a book, it makes a very large difference in an author's career, which is why a lot of publishers bend over backward to accommodate them. I read on an author's blog how disappointed he was when he heard B&N would not be carrying his books. A blow like that is heavy, while having Sam & Mary's bookstore in Puducka, Connecticut not carry your stuff is a lot less harsh.

I'm not being negative against B&N--they're a good store, a good business, and I hope they thrive and make billions of dollars with the Nook, but I just like to see that kind of power shared instead of concentrated.


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