Monday, November 10, 2008
Bookstores Brace For Slow Sales in 2008 Holiday Season
Despite highly-anticipated upcoming releases in fiction as well as non-fiction, including the autobiographies of T. Boone Pickens and Ted Turner, there's a growing anxiety among bookstores that the holiday sales season will be a harsh and cold winter.
Leonard Riggio, chairman of Barnes and Noble, told the Wall Street Journal that the book retailer was delaying expansion and cutting new store openings.During the past six months, Barnes and Noble's stock has fallen to almost half of its price on May 30, from $30.51 on May 30 to today's price around $17. Misery must love company, because B&N's rival, ,Books-A-Million sank from $7.51 to a staggeringly low of $275 as of 12:37 p.m. ,today. Riggio also said:
Never in all my years as a bookseller have I seen a retail climate as poor as the one we are in. Nothing even close...I am saddened by the many stories of booksellers who have taken big hits in their 401K plans, including many who have a large percentage of their holdings in (our) stock.
In our digital society, hard-copy books are falling into a new classification- leisure reading, the same category of most magazines and newspapers. With the exception of college students and professors, most of us don't have sufficient time to read as many books as we would like to during our busy schedules. Judging by the growing number of audiobook titles for sale at the iTunes store, more of us are opting listen to the book when we find a few extra minutes during our daily commute.Our sound-byte culture would rather read it a few pages at a time on iPhone or watch the movie version.
This latest example of our detachment to print media comes as no surprise, I just wish author and professor Neil Postman was still alive to offer his opinion. In 1985Postman wrote Amusing Ourselves to Death: "Public discourse in the age of showbusiness", foresaw the shift well before most analysts. In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Postman warned that a culture obsessed with TV would eventually lose its ability to analyze and evaluate critical ideas. In one one of the most relevant sections from the book, Postman credits his inspiration from prognosticators: Aldous Huxley and George Orwell.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.....Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
I think Huxley,Orwell and Postman were pretty accurate with their predictions.
By Matt O'Hern at 01:46 PM | Comments (3)