Amazon Vs. The Bookstores

I came across a bit of news this week that should be of interest to anyone interested in the publishing industry and how Amazon is changing it. Recently, some of the biggest chain bookstores, including Barnes ‘n Noble, Books-a-Million, and Canada’s Indigo Books, have decided they will no longer sell Amazon books. This news, which I first read on AWP’s website/newsletter, came after Amazon announced it had begun its own publishing program, which could present yet another major challenge to bookstores and the struggling publishing industry. The article states that, “Amazon has cut out the traditional system of publishers publishing books and then working with booksellers in order to market them. Amazon, which already created a lot of stress for publishers with its decision to produce Amazon-exclusive e-book titles, now publishes and sells its own books and major publishers and retailers don’t want any part of it.”

The bookstores aren’t alone in their protest over this. The American Booksellers Association has made its subsidiary, IndieCommerce, remove all Amazon titles from its listings. IndieCommerce provides indie bookstores access to the latest titles via an online database. Meanwhile, the Christian Science Monitor has reported that Amazon plans to open its own bookstores based on the model of the Apple stores.

If Amazon does expand its publishing house and also opens bookstores, this certainly could drive more bookstores and publishers out of businesses.  If we eventually live in a world where Amazon is the main publisher and seller of books, what impact will that have on allowing for a variety of voices in literature? I seriously doubt Amazon would take a chance on a young, experimental writer. Furthermore, bookstores, especially indie ones, provide something Amazon does not-community. Local bookstores are where writers and poets go to do readings and sign books, and local bookstores host other events for all ages, including lectures and workshops. I simply don’t foresee Amazon bookstores being as friendly to local communities as indie bookstores or even Barnes ‘n Noble.

New Bookstore Coming

A few months ago, Borders in Dickson City closed, as the company went bankrupt and closed all of its stores across the nation. This closing followed the loss of Anthology New and Used Books in Scranton. Without these two stores, Lackawanna County no longer had a full-fledged bookstore.

When all of this happened over the spring and summer, I bemoaned the loss of these stores, realizing it was a real loss to the community and all of the writers and customers that frequented these places. Well, the good news is that a new bookstore, Books-A-Million, will soon fill the space Borders used to occupy.

An article that ran in The Scranton Times about two weeks ago stated the store should have opened by Nov. 4.  My girlfriend and I went down there on Friday to see if it opened yet, and it did not. However, a lot of the shelves were filled with books, and as we looked through the window, I noticed some of the folks that worked at Borders were stocking shelves. So, I’m happy that at least some of the Borders employees that were laid off have jobs again.

I don’t know what Books-A-Million will be like. According to the recent article, they will have several book sections, a cafe, and magazine rack. I just hope people support this place, considering it’s the only full-fledged bookstore the whole county has. Though I now live closer to two Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million will be closer to the college where I teach, so I do plan to frequent it.