Vintage Reads #10: Books Go Bye-Bye

bedtime story

So, Barnes & Noble is closing its 60,000-square-foot Lincoln Triangle Store after fifteen years of business.  They claim it has nothing to do with sales, but we all know better.  They're not moving because they just want a change of scenery.  We all know the score: print media is in deep shit.

For me, nothing can replace holding the actual pages in my hands - reading it on a computer screen (even if it's a Kindle) just doesn't do it for me.  But then, I'm in my forties.  The same feeling isn't necessarily shared by the younger generations.  In fact, although it pains me to say it, I find myself reading a lot more digital media than I used to.  I can easily foresee the inevitable demise of the printed word altogether.

Everyone knows about the horrible state newspapers are in across the country. It's not a matter of "if they're going to die" but "when". 

Books still make money - but the dynamics have changed.  Glenn Beck and Stephen King will make 30 million off their newest bestsellers, but 99% of the inventory collects dust. 

What's really sad is that the big stores like Barnes & Noble, Borders and Books-a-Million have all but crushed the small locally owned bookstores.  Now that these little stores which actually had something unique to offer their community have bit the dust, their predators are now  falling prey to an even bigger fish in the food chain - the Internet marketplace.

To make matters worse, the sales of e-books has increased 176 percent since 2009! The electronic book is still a small part of the market (less than ten percent), but it's obviously making good ground.

Well, I'd love to sit here and mourn the passing of the printed word; but in case you haven't noticed; Retrospace ain't on paper. So, I guess I'll step off my soap box on this one issue..


  1. I recently did a post on why newspapers are dying, http://www.retrohound.com/why-people-used-to-read-the-newspaper/ with some examples of what used to be in the paper. Should have named the post “Scantily Clad Woman Swallows 3 Rings, Bites Policeman” which is the title of an article from a 1956 Wichita Kansas paper. I still read magazines and books some (and even the newspaper sometimes) but I am on the computer quite a bit. I doubt I'll get around to ebooks.

  2. I can't stand reading books on a screen. It really bothers my eyes. Plus, I just love the way books smell! I love turning the pages, I love having a special shelf where I put my books.

    If your bookshelf crashes, all you have to do is buy a new bookshelf. But if a Kindle or Nook crashes, you lose all of your books.

  3. I really don't think print, books or newspapers or magazines is really going to completely die, but it sure ain't gonna look the same even ten years from now.

    I have both a Kindle and go to the bookstore every week. I read books on my computer at work (*shhhh* Don't tell anyone!) but have piles at home waiting for some shelf space. I don't think it's an either/or. Print-on-demand (like that Xpresso machine and others like it) I think will bridge the gap a little, at least for a while. If nothing else, I think there are enough book fetishists that there will always be a niche market for them, at the very least.

  4. I have a Kindle and love it. Sure, it doesn't have the feel of a book, can crash, etc. But, the bottom line is that it makes me read more. Last night, laying in bed, decided I wanted to read a Buddy Holly biography I had been looking at. Turn on the wi-fi press a few buttons, and I'm reading the preface! Now I could buy it as a book, and spend more, but then have another book to store. And two trips to the library ain't free either.

  5. I wonder as the big box book stores start to go under due to pressure from Amazon, if a new niche will open for the old fashioned used book store. There is a chain used-book store here called Half-Priced Books. There are 5-6 of them in the area. Whenever I'm in the one in my neighborhood it is doing great business.

  6. I predict (KTLA PREDICTS!) that in a few years, someone will market an aromatherapy candle or reed diffuser that releases the scent of aging paper and formaldehyde, simulating the experience of reading an ancient tome while you read your Kindle.

  7. Love your blog!!! It's sad Barnes & Noble is going out of business. I'm not sure if they all are or only just some are. I hope they leave a few stores open. I love going there, it's so relaxing. I am following your blog & I added you on my blogroll list.

  8. Publishers ought to offer authors the option of going e-book only, with a smaller advance but larger royalties. Or vice-versa.

  9. I will not do Kindle. One must simply draw the line somewhere. That is not luddism; that's simply defining boundaries. I agree with Atom Kid on this one!

  10. In 1086 William the first of England organised the collection of vast amounts of data on landholdings and resources to estimate the wealth of the country and to assess how heavily it could be taxed. These records are all collected in the Doomsday book in the Public Record Office
    In 1986 the BBC ran something called the Doomsday Project which celebrated 900 years since the Doomsday book by again collecting data to provide a snapshot of Great Britain in the modern era. To emphasise how far we’d come since William’s day the data were recorded and stored on a laserdisc
    Unfortunately, 24 years later, there are no longer any machines that can read laserdiscs and the BBC data may be lost. The Doomsday Book of course, although 924 years old, is as readable as it ever was.
    Perhaps in some future time when the last person who can fix a kindle has gone extinct we’ll also lose all the literature we relied on it to read. However, if that includes the collected works of Dan Brown that may be no bad thing

  11. No Kindles for me, either. And I have forced myself to open real books again and read. Thanks to the computer, it is difficult for me to sit still and read a printed page in a book now...me, the girl who used to cut days of classes while at Purdue just to sit on her bed in her dorm room and read, read, read. :(

  12. I have stacks and stacks and stacks of printed or dead tree books (dtbs)to hopefully get through someday but I have more on my Kindle and would prefer to have everything on it. I am in my 50s AND gasp work in Library Land. I still buy used books because I am in a Golden Age of Mystery mood and plan to be there for several years and since those that are not Public Domain tend to cost far more in ebook than they should I will be ordering used copies for a loooong time but I do not have to like!!