Bookish Topic Tuesday
Bookstores a dying breed?
With the advent of ebooks and of course online retailers like Amazon, Bookdepository, etc. physical bookstores have been in decline. We’ll that’s the general feeling, I don’t know if that’s completely true. Here in Australia, unfortunately the latest data on the number of ‘book retailers’ is back from 2003-2004 which is quite disappointing. Apparently over 1500 businesses sold books, and of that only 561 of them were bookshops. It would be so interesting to see these numbers now, so shame on you ABS! (I have actually enquired about this, because I’m really interested). I know in Australia we were rocked a few years ago with the news that Borders and Angus and Robertson were going to close, that really seemed like the beginning of the end for book stores, but those remaining have stuck it out.
Those same statistics from the ABS, Book Retailers, Australia, 2003-04, also reveal that 1.4 billion dollars (Australian) worth of books were sold in 2003-2004, with 67% of these books sold at ‘bookshops’, and surprisingly contrast to the statistics of today, 98% of the books sold were printed! The only real comparison for Australia I can make is that in 2000-2001, it was only around 1.2 billion dollars sold.
Looking to America, according to the Statistics of US Businesses by the United States Census Bureau there were apparently 8876 ‘establishments’ labelled as bookstores, with 3969 ‘firms’, with over 110,000 employees in 2010. Compared to in 1992 there were 7, 654 firms, with 13,136 establishments, employing under 100,000 people. Which shows that while there seem to be more people employed, there was nearly a 50% reduction in firms, and a 30% reduction in establishments.
I know where I live, my local shopping centre, used to have a Angus and Robertson, then we got a smaller independent one, and now we have a more ‘budget’ book store. While the nearest ‘large’ shopping centre only had Angus and Robertson for some time, after that closed down it was replaced by that same independent store at my local centre, but that too has closed. At the same time another store opened, QBD, which seems to be going strong. Dymocks is really the main book shop chain left standing in Australia, but it’s nothing like Barnes and Noble (I went to one in Hawaii it was amazing).
Honestly I’m hopeful for book stores, I really am, I think some will die off but those left standing can innovate and still survive. I honestly love book stores so want them around for many years to come. Why not go find an independent bookstore near you? They are often great surprises! Try searching here: Find a bookstore
So where do you love buying books? Do you go online, department store, one of the big ‘chains’ or independent? Will physical bookstores survive?