Are Bookstores Becoming Relics?

Are bookstores becoming a relic? Will hard copy books become a thing of the past? Well, I do not think that people will ever stop printing hard copy books. It isn’t like the switch from VHS to DVD.

However, I do believe that hard copy books will become a speciality market. The specialty market will cater to the tech-phobic and those clinging to the old ways.

Author David Farland agrees. He provides numbers to support his thoughts writing:

In the past month alone, the nation’s third largest chain, Borders, has filed for bankruptcy and is now liquidating 400 of its stores. Many other bookstores are in trouble.

Meanwhile, book sales on a month-by-month basis for hardcovers in the US are showing about a 40% loss, on a month-to-month comparison to one year ago, and paperback sales are also tanking.

At the same time,, the world’s largest retailer, is showing about a 300% rise in sales of e-books on their site from last year.

Barnes and Noble, the second largest retail chain in the United States, is jumping onto the digital platform. In the past few months, they’ve reduced shelf space for books in their stores dramatically, increasing the space that is allotted to selling e-readers and accessories.

As a result of this, an author can anticipate that paperback sales now are about 50% of what they were last year.

In other words, paper books are rapidly dying. Many of the retailers who were selling them only a year ago are gone, and many of the survivors were selling paper books are now pushing electronic books instead.

So what does this mean? This mean that the money in the publishing industry now lies with an electronic audience. It lies with e-books. It makes self-publishing an increasing appealing option for many authors. With the shrinking of the mid-list to possibly non-existent, in order to get your manuscript to the masses, self-publishing will be the way to go. With increasing advances in technology it is easier and cheaper than ever before.

Everyone except the big name authors who are making a killing off of bestselling novels through traditional publishing and traditional agents and editors seem to be the only ones still clinging to the old process of getting a book published. More and more authors are changing their tune about self-publishing as they are seeing the market shift to e-book sales.

E-publishing is a revolution that seems to pick up steam every month. Where will this revolution lead?  How will libraries change when hard copy books of new releases will not be available? I’ve already seen on the news about borrowing e-books although it is only in select libraries.

What will be the consequences of this shift?

About Haley Whitehall

Haley Whitehall lives in Washington State where she enjoys all four seasons and the surrounding wildlife. She writes historicals set in the 19th century U.S. When she is not researching or writing, she plays with her cats, watches the Western and History Channels, and goes antiquing. She is hoping to build a time machine so she can go in search of her prince charming. A good book, a cup of coffee, and a view of the mountains make her happy.
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  1. Oh no! I’d hate to see the end of all printed books. Although, I must admit since I got my Kindle I haven’t bought a paper book once. I’m writing a novel series too & it looks like I’ll be self eBook publishing it later this year.

  2. Printed books won’t disappear. Instead they will become a specialty item, just like candles have become. I suspect that we will see a rebirth of custom hand bound collectors books.

    The good news is that independent writers who aren’t tied into the big six publishers will have a chance to make more money than they ever have in the past. The writers who are tied into the big six will get ripped off big time (in my opinion).


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