This is not surprising. I suppose the telegraph companies wailed and gnashed their teeth at the phone companies, too. Amazon isn't beating you because they're an evil empire out to destroy the little guy. They're winning because they have a better business model, that works better for how customers actually live today. I spend a not-insignificant portion of my income on books. I have an entire room in my house dedicated to them. And I haven't set foot in a bookshop in five years. Why would I? You might have what I want, or you might not. I might be able to find it on your shelves or somebody else might have left it in with the romances. You might be able to order it, or you might not. I gladly shell out my $70 a year for Amazon Prime. I make it back in shipping costs by early March at the latest. I don't have to leave my house. I can order pretty much anything that's ever been printed–if Amazon doesn't have it, their marketplace sellers probably do. I don't have to search for it, wait on special orders, or wait in line. And it all happens at prices with which you can't compete–not because Amazon is some kind of anti-competitive monopoly, but because their business model is just plain cheaper. And that's not even mentioning ebooks. Despite my life-long addiction to books, both as a medium and as objects, I haven't bought a physical book in two years, and I don't miss them at all. It's a better experience, all around. At first, when something came out that I couldn't get electronically, I bought a physical copy and grumbled through reading it. Now I just don't read it. Eventually, publishers will adapt or die, and I won't have to worry about a lack of electronic versions. (And as a side note, even without books and music and movies and all the other entertainment detritus that did little but take up space and time, the Prime account is still a hell of a deal). Look, I sympathize. The position you're in can't be very much fun. But I'm growing sick of people making out Amazon to be some kind of Wal-Mart. They're not. They're not just bigger or meaner or cheaper–they're flat-out better. You've looked at the author's perspective, and the bookseller's perspective, and Amazon's perspective, and the publisher's perspective–great. Well, here's this consumer's perspective: I don't shop with them because they're brainwashing me and destroying the little guys; I shop with them because they have what I want, when I want, at a price I want. That's just not a service you–or any physical bookshop–can provide to me any more. From where I sit, they're not really your competitor–they're your successor. - Dave
My question for Dave is why is he bothering to read a blog - much less take the time to reply to it - from a small independent bookshop? Clearly he doesn't give a damn about independent businesses and, if he's correct and we don't survive, blogs like ours will cease. So why does he bother?
If we don't survive, there will be no more blogs, no website, no recommendations, no weekly newzines and no quarterly newsletters. Those only exist if people buy physical books. Selling e-books will not support them. I have no idea if Dave pays any attention to those things we produce, if he uses them to decide what to buy from Amazon. But it is possible he won't have them to use much longer.
The other issue in all of this is that if the independent booksellers to vanish, as Dave seems to gleefully believe they will, can publisher continue to publish? If we crash and B&N were to crash like Borders has, will there be an outlet for physical books? Can publishers continue to produce physical books with only university bookshops, libraries, price clubs and Amazon to sell them? And if they can't, how can publisher continue to publish? Can selling e-books support the marketing and editing and sales force that exists? If not, if publishing as it currently exists goes away, Dave may be left with only what Amazon decides to 'publish' itself.
If the market for books continues to narrow, inevitably the choices readers have will, too.
Finally, some posts have decried my stance since Amazon is going to contiue publishing more and more authors and even reissuing many. As a country, as a planet, we've been dealing with the impacts of the idiotic, short-sighted, if not mendatious, actions of the huge corporate banks. The question has been about Too Big To Fail. If that is a bad idea for banks, shouldn't it be applied to any corporation? If we're to worry about Goldman Sachs as being too big, when do we apply that to Amazon? Because we should.
Others have posted/commented that we need to adapt or we will die. In our 21 years, we've continually adapted. We're not hesitant to do that and we'll continue to adapt to the changing paradigm. We will be unveiling our new website that offers online sales and e-books. We're not sticking solely with printed books, but they are and always will be our primary focus. How could they not be? How can you call yourself a bookseller and not sell books? Otherwise, you're just a 'filesharer'.