Saturday, April 16, 2011

The State of Bookshops

I’m getting worried. In NZ 70% of our bookshops (Whitcoulls-since-1888(?), Borders and Bennetts – basically all the chains) are under voluntary administration because their parent company is semi-bankrupt. They keep telling us they’re pretty sure the NZ stores won’t be affected that much, but said NZ stores seem to be selling off most of their stock.

I was in Whitcoulls yesterday and they have sale tables throughout the shop, with pretty recent titles going for $10 or less (normal retail is about $20-$30). I was nearly tempted by some of them, but luckily I’d forgotten my wallet and I am GOING OVERSEAS SOON so I will not buy paper books. In the young adult section, they’ve started putting ALL the books face out to use more shelves and fewer books. The vampire invasion is even more obvious – I guess they’re the books they can be sure of selling.

I understand that if the chains go, the independents will get a lot more business. Whitcoulls has felt a bit like a pharmacy for a while now and Borders has always been the big corporate (though now I guess it’s one of the last Borders chains still standing) but it’s not fair that we lose 70% of our bookstores in one foul swoop. Whitcoulls, despite the clinical feel, is a New Zealand institution.

I’d like to support Whitcoulls. I have a few books I would buy from their ebook store, if they were there. And they’re not. So I look on international ebook stores instead, which won’t help Whitcoulls, and I find them. But they are not available in NZ. If I lived in Albania, I could buy them. If I lived in Tajikistan, I could buy them. I can buy paper copies, but not ebooks. Except if they’re kindle books, apparently – I can buy those from NZ. I almost would, but then I’d have to read on my computer.

Maybe I’m a product of the want-it-now generation. Maybe the want-it-now generation has had a hand in the downfall of the bookshops. But I don’t understand why you can get the paper version but not the ebook. Except if it’s a kindle. Or maybe (after further sleuthing) Whitcoulls just haven’t got it together and put the ebook up on site.

Right. Rant over.

No comments:

Post a Comment

what do you think?