« Traditional Bookstores are Doomed-Becker | Main | Raising Public-College Tuition—Posner »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

منتديات الغروب

Good solution guys. Thanks for all that you do for us for free. It’s too bad that this is even an issue.

منتديات الغروب

منتدى الغروب


So humanity can now get information including books at much lower cost i.e. using less resources including less human effort. So all the more human capital and resources that are now free to invent, innovate and work into something yet unforeseen. What’s not to like overall?

Well, the fact that some people will no longer be subsidized in the now inferior value/cost ratio of services they provide, and will have to find something new to do. OR, perhaps, everybody needs to negate at least some of the benefits of the new lower cost technologies so that they can subsidize those involved in the obsolete technologies. However, since consumers do not want to pay the higher prices implied in the subsidies, who is going to pay? Well… the rich of course. Those very same people that brought the innovation in the first place. Nothing is impossible if we can only rope competent people into working in large part for us all. All we got to do is vote for it. That is why many of the competent and would be rich are not even on the radar screen, having compromised instead on the relative comfort of mediocrity (see Europe); and this is why Western world growth has slowed down to an endemic 2-3% growth rate trendline, in a world that grows at 4.5% on average. So the West will continue its relative decline towards being absorbed away into the worldwide average. But Geez! Why cant we just do mediocre work and have our cake too! Why do most people seem so unwilling to share and exchange high value work for mediocre work? The world is so unfair! Centralized planning under a cadre of experts with equality of outcome as the primary goal, is the only hope for change. Just like Europe!


Physical bookstores selling physical books will grow fewer. Posner and Becker scarcely go out on a limb with this prediction. Others have said the same.

Those who cheer the centralized electronic distribution of reading material should consider the fate of GM and Chrysler, now government owned. Also, read Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 again.

Vivian Darkbloom

Both Posner and Becker fail to mention the very important issue of e-book piracy. Once a book is out there in digital form, I think it will be very difficult to stop the illegal sale of pirated copies. Swapping texts, like music or DVD's, will probably be rampant. While the internet offers many more would-be authors the opportunity to publish their work, this development will likely depress margins on e-books sales considerably. Perhaps that is not a bad thing.

Despite the inefficiencies of the printed book and the old-fashioned book stores, I will miss them both. The experience of browsing through the tangible product in cozy surroundings can't be duplicated on-line. Also, with the decline of printing books, I suspect the value of first edition hard back novels will increase as their numbers decline and their novelty increases. It might be a good time to start collecting.

Cathy M.

There is a recent development involving Google eBooks that has potential to help the independent bookstores. Here is a link to one of our local bookstores, which seems to be doing quite well - I have no idea how this bookstore is doing financially, but the traffic in the store is quite brisk. This store also does a lot of used book reselling, which I especially like, which draws many people to the store, both as buyers and sellers.


Jonathon B

I think one thing we will see is a migration of where books are sold, from dedicated book stores, to specialty shops that can pair books with other forms of retail.

One example, that comes to mind because I bought one this past weekend, are cookbooks. There is incredible value to perusing cookbooks before purchase - primarily to see if the book as the sort of recipes one is looking for. And while you can obtain cookbooks on the Kindle, I personally find it easier to have a physical book with me in the kitchen as I cook, instead of worrying about dropping my kindle into the sink.

My guess is you will see cookbooks move from the Barnes & Nobles of the world to places that specialize in selling cooking equipment. Williams & Sonoma already has a selection of cookbooks. One could venture to see a similiar migration of home/auto repair to the Home Depots, books on gardening moving to greenhouses, and so forth.

Chuck Toombs

I think a market will develop for downtown super bookstores, similar to Powells books in Portland Oregon. They have ten times the book inventory than a conventional book store. Its an event to go there.


again, a superficial analysis

Joe Pine and James Gilmore covered all of this in the Experience Economy

Any gaps are filled in by Evans and Wurster, Blown to Bits, Caircross, The Death of Distance, and Shapiro and Varian, Information Rules

Those book stores that will survive will have either or both of two features. First, they will become a trusted navigator, keeping Posner off the shelves but ordering extra copies of Krugman's next book.

How many of us wish for a trusted navigator now? There have been X books on the Great Ayn Rand Recession. The reviews, while ok, still leave so much to be desired

Second, they will find ways to improve the experience---instead of book signings, video conferences with the author? who knows, who cares?

What is being lost is that the evidence shows that reading on the computer is not the same as reading a book or hard copy.


I’d love to print millions of my books but my friend Al Gore won’t let me. Life’s getting very difficult in the central planning camp. So many masterminding opinions, green, red, brown, black… yet the central plan to impose must ultimately be only one. It’s pitting progressive brother against progressive brother and that is not a good thing.

bhp warszawa

very interesting article, i always want to write my own blog


One segment of the book market that will be interesting to watch is college textbooks. They are extremely expensive since the students are compelled to buy them. Many profs write books, then require their students to buy it-so you have rent seeking profs!

This market will not decline until the ebook allows for easy underlining and note taking. Eventually it will happen.

Maybe a good pairs trade is short consumer bookstores, go long college textbook bookstores!

Apartamentos Bogota

I have my own business about real estate in my home country, and I try to read all the possible information about the issue on the net. Thanks for this great resource. These days we have a crisis similar to USA, and the best way to get better is learning about the solutions and measures taken in America. Thanks again

Apartamentos Bogota

I have my own business about real estate in my home country, and I try to read all the possible information about the issue on the net. Thanks for this great resource. These days we have a crisis similar to USA, and the best way to get better is learning about the solutions and measures taken in America. Thanks again


Probably doomed in current form, but as comments suggest, perhaps some combo of coffee house, entertainment center, venue for authors to meet their public and sales of new and used books that ARE better in book form. A club? that we'd join like today's gyms?

Today's 20 somethings seem to search for a sense of local community perhaps in response to soulless franchise mills having replaced the charm and diversity of locally owned cafes and nightspots of a time past, or, ha! a subconscious gathering in response to the ominous cracking sounds of late stage capitalism that doesn't have much of a place for them?

Posner mentions:
"This is the rationale for resale price maintenance: manufacturers of some goods place a floor under the retail price of the goods, thus deliberately increasing the retailers’ margin, but hoping by doing so to induce them to engage in nonprice competition that will increase the demand for the goods."

They took this route in CD's too. While not exactly price fixing, CD distributors subsidized advertising costs IF the 15.99 or 16.99 retail price was maintained. With the artist getting just 10% of that retail. Keeping CD's "too expensive" surely added to the incentives and justifications for stealing the content on the net.

Here, it's interesting to note that despite "productivity gains" the min wage of 1980, often earned by the young who constitute much of the music buying public, would buy a record album, while today it would take over two hours of min wage to buy a "price supported" CD. Progress, eh?

So, soon bookstores, both locally owned and the chains are greatly reduced in number. While authors and "publishers" perhaps earn about the same as today, gone are the local jobs and profits from the community to be replaced by ..... what?

One door that should open wider would be that of self-publishing. Like items of interest to only a few per thousands sold on Ebay, the low costs of digital publishing will be a boon to those writing on arcane subjects or even poetry and fiction not likely to be "best sellers".

BTW have you noticed all the recent Home Depot ads install their cabinets, windows, flooring et al? Aah yes a bit more profit off to their HQ somewhere far away, fewer local craftsmen able to remain independent and more $15/hour jobs that don't pay the bills?

Min Wage history:


Jeff: In the "curious" world of expensive textbooks if it's efficiency we're seeking (often doubtful!) it would seem they'd be the first to go digital. One benefit is that of being able to quickly search the info and the other that of publishing the frequent revisions more cheaply. As for highlighting it would seem, for now, printing out the chapters of interest would be effective; if need be, a whole 200 page book could be printed at home for a fraction of the cost of a text book.

Avi to dvd

Wow, good article, and I had learned a lot of informations, thanks vert much, hope you guys can have more useful informations!

David Xu

I agree on the point that the sale of on-line e-books will have a significant copyright issue - piracy.

But would the risk of piracy, or the cost for controlling and preventing piracy, will make e-books prohibited to an extent in whole or in part, to be sold?

This is a legal and economics question.

In first think, I would rather consider that the piracy risk and piracy prevention costs won't be an issue strongly enough to prevent e-books.

The issue become more sort of lying on how to control/prevent piracy while selling e-books?

Who knows?

Inventory Management Software

I appreciate your post and it was superb .Thanks for sharing.I would like to hear more about this in future.


Books bought through bookstores are more costly not only in price. Also in customers’s time—the time required to travel to and from the bookstore, find the book one wants to buy, and complete the purchase

Psychologist Perth

I believe that traditional bookstores will survive despite the rise of online shopping. There is something unique about walking into a bookstore, looking at books and flipping through them that online shopping can't provide. Also, it is often cheaper to order books through a traditional bookstore than order them online and pay for the shipping costs if they come from overseas.

Criminal lawyers Edinburgh

"Two of the largest bookstore chains—Barnes & Noble and Borders—are in danger of being forced into bankruptcy; their plight raises the broader question of whether bookstores will survive in any significant number, and, if not, what the consequences will be."

It is perhaps unsurprising in current times. Take for instance Google's plan to create an electronic library. Although the case brought against them partially forced Google into a larger settlement being procured, Google books will still be one additional reason for bookstores like Barnes and Noble and Borders going out of business. Only a matter of time?

Best wishes


The question then becomes whether the loss of point-of-sale services that bookstores provide will hurt publishers (and therefore authors, whose prosperity is linked to that of publishers) more than it will help them by reducing their distribution costs.

There's a fundamental problem with this article, in that the words "publisher" and "author" are not defined. I suggest there is a vast difference between what may happen to the business models of the "Big Six" as compared with the thousands of small presses; and also, that the word "author" means two completely different things depending on if you're one of the privileged brand names or one of the great unedited herd.

Being the owner of a small press and an author of a few books, I will be absolutely delighted to see the demise of the business model as it stands.

The whole idea of "free merchandise" (the bookshop returns system) is an anti-environmental anachronism and needs to be done away with.

Lesser lights cannot get their books into the big stores - B&N for example uses PAYOLA, banned in the music industry. (Pay for display). Disgusting.

So, to hell with Borders, to hell with B&N, up with the independents, down with big publishers, let's party!


When all is said and done, technology changes the culture and then the culture drives more tecnological changes for better or for worse. The question remains, however, as to whether the cultural changes are beneficial to society at large or result in some social fabric weakening. might I be so bold as to use nuclear weapons as an example. Certainly their development changed the world and then led to more technical changes, not always good. I would hope that technology would slowly erode the existence of hard copy books.



"would NOT erode the existence_________"

Dell Inspiron Batteries

This was a helpful tip! Love this pink paisley designed bag in the picture! I so need a new laptop bag! Great Hub! I usually use my laptop while its plugged in, so there's no need for me to have it set to conserve energy.

Danny Bloom

JOHN, above, in comments above, wrote: "What is being lost is that the evidence shows that reading on the computer is not the same as reading a book or hard copy."

John, do you have any evidence to back that up, links, refs, citations? All I know so far is that some researchers are using MRI and PET scan studies to try to determine if in fact different parts of the brain light up when we read on paper surfaces compared to when we read on screens, and my hunch is that they do light up diff parts of the brain and that the parts are superior for when we read on paper, brain wise, brain chemisty wise that is, in terms of how the brain processes info, retains the info, analyses the info and thinks critically about the info just read. We do need more research on this. Because WHAT IF if turns out that reading on screens is vastly inferior to reading off paper in terms of the above items i noted just now? Ouch.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Become a Fan

May 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31