Archive for July 28, 2011

POLL no.1-Conclusions

Posted: July 28, 2011 in polls

A couple of weeks ago we were in an independent bookshop when Mrs Crime Scraps saw a book she liked but it was priced at £25.00, we gulped and went home. Later we guiltily purchased it online from Amazon for £15.00! 

Therefore I was not particularly surprised by the results of the Crime Scraps Polls no.1 which showed that 33% of those that voted had bought the last book they read from Amazon. 

21% had borrowed that last book read from the library, and 12% had purchased it from another online retailer. 6% used either an independent bookshop or multiple chain bookstore such as Borders or Waterstones. With only 12% of the market, and although my sample was small I think we are representative of the book reading public, the long term viability of small independent bookshops or chains similar to the recently closed Borders is problematic. It is common sense that as financial pressure grows during this long recession readers will rely more and more on a shrinking library system, and the cheaper on line retailers. 

Borders with its cafe in the bookstore seemed to us so innovative and friendly when we stopped in Lancaster County PA, after driving still jet lagged from our friends house in the Poconos back in 1993. I don’t remember anything like that in the UK at the time, although there might have been in London.

Why did Borders fail?  I have read several articles on this subject, and some of the reasons were not specific to the book trade. Retail is difficult a disaster, at the present time and some shopping precincts in English towns look semi-abandoned. But Borders made several mistakes.

1] They failed to keep up with technology, the growth of internet sales, and the move from print books to e- books. They were outpaced in this field by their major rivals Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. When they did wake up they could not catch up with the advantage held by the leaders.

2] There was an inability to control costs as a result of opening too many big stores on 15-20 year leases. There are many businesses in the UK that have made the same mistake taking prime high street positions that require enormous turnover merely to cover the rent, business rates, and stock purchase overheads.

3] Their sales of music CDs and DVDs fell off a cliff, which was predictable if they had looked at the progressive closure of music stores in the UK. 

Borders were copied, and then left behind by their rivals.

I still enjoy the experience of browsing in a book shop, but when the price differential is huge it is inevitable that I purchase the vast majority of my books on -line, and it seems I am not alone.