I was in a large Barnes and Noble in a large city several weeks ago – having a large time. The place was half coffee shop, half card store, and half toy store (as author Nick Cole discusses below). Some books were scattered around. Most were geared towards children, housewives, and people who cannot read. I saw writing on the walls.
No, this particular placement for the once vaunted science fiction section, a staple they kept so many bookstores alive with the trade of the faithful binge-buying junkie science fiction readers cleaning them out, is now relegated to the smelly back of the store. It seemed like some sort of discount holdover section no bookseller wanted to be sent into to organize. There was no love. It was forsaken.
The Toy Section (Yes. Toys. In a book store? Tells you everything, doesn’t it?) Took up a quarter of the store and was a swollen and corpulent mess with un-purchased excess from the recent Christmas season. Whole tables, where once New Releases and Staff Pick Impulse buys laid in seductive waiting for junkie readers and unsuspecting passers by, was now filled with mangled and dirty toys that had not sold. And probably won’t.
So what does this tell us writers.
Well, first off it tells you the big publishing is dead. They’re dead and they don’t even know it.
The book business is good. Very good. I’m working on two books right now (aren’t I always). And I’m helping a magazine compile a e-book for rapid publication – not sure if I’ll get credit there though 19/20ths of the work is mine.
The point is, books are booming. And it’s never been easier to write, publish, and sell one than it is now. So, why the demise of B&N? It’s because they’re run by the same idiots who doomed the major publishing houses. The big five will begin to fall any day – probably this year.
Look for major downsizing at B&N and then total closure. I expect Amazon will buy some or most of their online business. Amazon is the present and future of the book world. Small indie houses will still be around. Amazon may open large physical stores in a few select locations. As for 99% of the business, it will be done from the bookstore on your phone or computer – the same one you’re on right now.
As I wandered aimlessly through the coffee and toys a somewhat pleasant woman asked me if I needed help finding anything. I asked her: “Is there a bookstore around here.” I already knew the answer and didn’t bother listening to hers.
Put that in your book!
*Many thanks to Vox Day for covering this story first!