September 28th, 2010

News: Used Booksellers on Impact of e-Books

I have a favorite used bookstore that I frequent and I have noticed that they aren't getting as many new books in.  There is a natural delay for new books to show up at used bookstores, but it seems to be more than just that.  I couldn't say if the decline in newly-published books is due to e-readers, or people are buying fewer books in general and tend to hold on to what they buy.

original article here: http://www.news-journalonline.com/business/local-business/2010/09/28/booksellers-consider-impact-of-e-books.html


Booksellers consider impact of e-books
By PATRICK MCCALLISTER, Correspondent
  September 28, 2010 12:05 AM

ORANGE CITY -- The concept of a book is transforming, becoming electronic.

Online bookseller Amazon.com recently reported selling almost 145 copies of electronic books for every 100 hardcover versions. As e-book sales surge, they're reportedly reducing traditional new book sales. While chain booksellers are trying to even the loss by getting into the e-book market, used-book dealers can't. They stand to be affected on two fronts -- fewer buyers and less stock to acquire.

Some area used-book dealers say they're already feeling a loss -- others haven't and don't expect to.

"We lost 20 percent of our business," said Kisha Rose, owner of Book Rack in Palm Coast.

"With coupons, you can get (e-book readers) for $65. I read a lot, and I can understand that if you have a chance to carry around a lot of books for $65, you're going to take it," Rose said. "Even owning my own business, it hurts, but I can understand."

Chuck Monk, owner of Orange City's Half Off Books said his business hasn't seen numbers changed by the growing popularity of e-book reading devices.

"I don't think it's affecting my sales," he said. "For a bad economy, my sales are up. I see it staying that way. There's pros and cons with e-readers. I don't think it'll ever replace printed material, at least for a long time."

Daytona Beach's Abraxas Books is also unaffected by the growing e-book popularity, said owner Jim Sass.

"It's probably too early to really tell if it's going to have much of an impact," he stated. "For many people, it's a question here."

Jim Brown founded Brown's Bookstore in Edgewater and still works there for his wife. He believes used-book dealers will likely be helped by the proliferation of e-books.

"It's a little early to tell yet," he said. "People are becoming more aware of reading, because of Kindle. I think it'll bring about more people reading. I believe e-books will bring a resurgence of business for me."

According to Amazon.com, seller of the Kindle Wireless Reading Device, the U.S. Kindle Store has more than 630,000 e-book titles for sale. More than 500,000 sell for less than $10 a copy. Additionally, there are reportedly about 1.8 million free books available to read on the Kindle devices from sources such as Project Gutenberg. Amazon dropped the price of the Kindle from $259 to $189 in June.

Several other e-book reading devices are available, including Barnes & Noble's Nook. It's selling for $149. Sony, Samsung and several other companies are making e-book readers that are not connected to particular sellers. Additionally, e-books are available for smart phones and other devices.

Nevertheless, Sass said e-books will never replace personal libraries.

"I think people who are really connected to books are not going to turn over to something like that," he said.

Monk agreed, noting that e-reading lacks the same pleasure as books for some.

"I started reading 'The Art of War' on my iPhone, but I quit," he said. "It doesn't do it for me."

Denise Thomasson frequently shops and trades at Half Off. She said she'll soon own an e-book reading device. Convenience is the attraction.

"Absolutely, because I wouldn't have to come up here and give my books," she said. "I wouldn't have to go pick up books. I want the one that gets the most books the fastest."

Thomasson is 51. Interestingly, her 17-year-old daughter, Courtney, said she'll likely stick to books for life.

"I like going to a bookstore," she said. "I like the touch, the feel."

Sass said used-book stores will be around with sustainable sales for a long time to come, because the ineffable pleasures of books and bookstores are something that can't be digitized in a single generation.

"They have about 500 years of publishing to catch up with," he said. "(E-books) might overcome books, but not in my lifetime."