Friday, December 29, 2017

Physical books persist while brick & mortar bookstores continue to die

This article from the New York Times reports the closing of the nation's fourth largest retail bookstore chain, Book World, due to the strong consumer preference for buying books online from (mostly) Amazon and Walmart. Interestingly, the article estimates that about half of all  U.S. households have an Amazon Prime membership (that's incredible, isn't it?) which means they can have any book their heart desires delivered right to their doorstep within 48 hours.  That kind of convenience, along with the ability of online retailers to sell books for much less than any brick and mortar operation is why Book World is closing its doors. The move will make Books-a-Million the nation's second largest physical bookstore retailer behind Barnes & Noble.  Of particular interest to the legal educators who read this blog is the article's observation that the demand for physical books still remains robust compared to the digital variety. It's just that most readers prefer the convenience and cost advantages of buying their books online. Thus, law professors and other educators should keep in mind when ordering textbooks for class each semester that, statistically speaking, your students likely prefer the physical version over its digital counterpart.  


p.s. Small, independent bookstores, unlike the bigbox variety, have been enjoying a resurgence much like record stores. (Click here for a list of links detailing the many success stories from across the nation). Please continue to support them.

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