Just two years into the e-reader industry, Barnes & Noble already controls 27 percent of the e-book market, compared to at least 60 percent for Amazon. Not a bad market share, considering Barnes & Noble’s late start. And this latest device is a signal the retailer is not backing down.
Indeed, that was the gist of the bold NYT piece, entitled “The Bookstore’s Last Stand.” In it, Julie Bosman chronicles Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch’s effort to reinvent the retail chain in the digital age, placing its bets, of course, on the Nook. She also paints a picture of Barnes & Noble as a sort of savior and last hope for the publishing world. Whereas traditional book publishers once saw large chain stores as the enemy, they now look on Barnes & Noble as a crucial place where readers can discover books. As Slate put it, “…all of publishing looks on them as their only hope, lest they get crushed beneath the heel of the Amazon e-book goliath.”
Running through the entire piece, however, is an undercurrent of gloom for the books industry, positing the end of a world with bookstores.
“These are trying times for almost everyone in the book business,” Bosman writes. “Since 2002, the United States has lost roughly 500 independent bookstores – nearly one out of five. About 650 bookstores vanished when Borders went out of business last year. No wonder that some New York publishers have gone so far as to sketch out what the industry might look like without Barnes & Noble. It’s not a happy thought for them….”