Old Bookselling Model Must End

As much as I love bookstores, I really had no idea just how wacked out the traditional bookselling business model is until  now. As a Borders bankruptcy looms ever larger, writer Zetta Brown thinks that maybe it’s time for an outdated business model to die as well. She writes,

Frankly, Borders is a reflection of the traditional bookstore system. It’s hardly surprising that they are failing because the economics behind supplying bookstores is totally bogus. Think about it. Bookstores demand huge discounts from publishers to buy books to stock their shelves plus they expect to be able to return unsold books for full credit. And if the bookstore is allowed to strip the book before returning it (while getting full credit) to the publisher…

As a book lover, I was aghast to learn that stripping is the practice of ripping off the book cover before returning the book to the publisher! When I was a kid, my mom worked at a small K-Mart store, and occasionally she would bring home a bunch of paperback books, all of which had the covers ripped off of them. Now I know the reason these books had been mutilated.

Obviously, such a system has no place in a world of eBooks. And depending on the details of the publishing contracts, authors and publishers should get a better overall deal. I’m going to miss having Borders around. My neighborhood Borders is closing soon, essentially leaving me little choice but to order print books and eBooks online. But after some growing pains, I think a more efficient business model should benefit all involved and perhaps lead to a literary rebirth. It has never been easier write, publish, and buy books than it is now. Once the old model is dead and buried, things can only get better.

Special thanks to WriterDonna whose tweet lead me to Zetta Brown’s article.

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