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The Canary in the Coal mine for big box retail?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by burk48237, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    Barnes and Noble just announced they are closing a third of their stores, considering the bankruptcy of their biggest competitor (Borders) a couple of years ago this brings to mind a few questions:


    1) Am I a Dinosoar? I like books, while I read some periodicals on line, I'm not a Kindle-Ipad book reader. I remember my local Borders was always crowded. Was it just a big showroom with most books being bought at Amazon or downloaded?

    2) Are Big Box specialty retailers a dying breed? Guitar Center is bleeding red ink, and a few others are hurting. And for all of the talk of show-rooming, can a retailer make it with a location that doesn't sell anything but just refers people to on line deals? Overhead at brick and mortar locations is huge, and most stores have to make 30-40% just to break even, after meeting building codes, pleasing OSHA, paying for rent, insurance, and utilities.

    3) What about the items you like to touch and feel? As a Fly Fisherman I like to cast a Fly Rod before I buy. As a bass player I like to play before I spend, but I must admit, I've bought my last few basses on line.
  2. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    1)Nah, books are great. Im not a fan of eReaders. Amazon has the big box retailers beat out, though. Why pay full price for a book when I can get it in Like New condition for a quarter of the price?

    2)I dont know. I like buying things online.

    3)I dont know. Ive bought basses online, but I wouldnt purchase a vehicle without driving it first.
  3. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I think book stores are always going to be around, but I think that in the future more and more commerce will be done online.
  4. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    I hope they don't close the B&N in Norman. It's the only physical source I have for heathen propaganda.
  5. I hope big book stores stay around, though we only really have Waterstones over here since Borders went bust.
  6. hover


    Oct 4, 2008
    I buy a book a month, and an e-book purchase is usually something I feel is relegated to more "disposable" titles...I like having the real deal...that said, I find B&N / Border locations to be completely overblown. What's truly odd is despite the size of the store, I'd say about 50% of the time i STILL have to order the title I want vs. simply walking in and picking up a copy...and I'm not even looking for odd / obscure titles...sure, sometimes a bit more niche, (I like Biographies and books on street art, etc...)

    I mainly patron them because there just aren't any alternatives around me, and I enjoy the ritual of going somewhere and perusing the shelves.... thing I hate is when I find something I want, it's usually one copy been leafed through, and the spine is creased.... should get a discount for that.
  7. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I had an interesting discussion with a colleague recently, him coming off a conference session where electronic publishing was discussed. One of the points made there was that paper books are probably never going to disappear entirely, because the technology platforms that ebooks are carried on become obsolete every seven years or so and libraries, etc., are always going to want the security of a paper copy that can't become unreadable by the next generation of gadget. But like Phalex said, they'll probably lose a lot of market share to online selling and ebooks.

    I also wonder if environmental concerns will, ironically, eventually revive the paper book. Most of this stuff is on clouds now, and that means that people are accessing their ebooks from enormous banks of servers in a park in New Jersey somewhere, buzzing and humming and consuming enormous amounts of power while generating a heat island. I can't help but think we'll reach the point that we decide we're doing less environmental damage by cutting down trees for paper than by all the energy consumption and global warming our electronic gadgets cause.
  8. viper4000


    Aug 17, 2010
    I think the "Showroom" model will be more and more prevalent as we move forward. Amazon has a good model in place as well. They can even do same day delivery now in some markets.

    Those of you that like the retail stores to touch and feel, get ready for the "display model" era of old. Yeah, you can touch it and see how it feels. But it has been abused and mistreated, because it is the showroom model. You may not get the satisfaction you get now from trying out a display model that is let's say "newer". Also, you may not get to go home with your purchase that day, because you and the sales associate went to the kiosk and bought it on-line with an in-store discount. I have already seen this happen. I see the model going this way. This will allow the brick and mortar to stay open. Higher on-line prices, and lower in-store prices due to discounts. But both operating units (online and in-store) will be supported by both revenue streams. The primary being online, with the in-store being the supplement, which has typically been viewed the other way around.
  9. GregC

    GregC Johnny and Joe Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2007
    I'm not surprised about B&N. The writing has been on the wall (pardon the pun) for years now. In my neighborhood, the B&N shut down a couple years before the Borders location. Amazon absolutely owns this area, although I think there will still be room for the niche mom & pop stores--in big cities, at least.

    I don't think we can draw broad conclusions about big box retailers, though. To me, it's more of a case by case basis. Clothes and shoes are certainly bought in larger quantities online these days, but a LOT of people still prefer to try them on in a store first. Furniture--the big pieces, anyway--is impractical when it comes to shipping-then-shipping-back-for-a-return, and folks want to see it in person. Same with TVs. OTOH, the record and video stores are obviously dead except for a few specialty shops.
  10. I think that two forces are going to doom all but a select few retailers: internet shopping and super-sophisticated inventory and logistics management. E-bay and Amazon just about own internet shopping, and Wal-mart and maybe a few others will own discount retail. Remember Circuit City? Comp USA? Crown Books? Sportmart? They're all gone, and K-mart, Sears, and JC Penney are probably next to go. I think there will be a niche for upscale retailers where the "shopping experience" is part of the attraction, e.g. Nordstrom, Saks 5th Avenue, but mid-tier stuff where the customer is very price sensitive isn't going to work.
  11. UncleFluffy


    Mar 8, 2009
    Head Tinkerer, The Flufflab
    I enjoy exploring cool second-hand book stores and make a point of hunting them out whenever I go to a new place. There's just something magical about browsing through a good used-book store and finding all sorts of stuff you weren't looking for. New books where I have a specific title in mind? Amazon every time.

    Generally, anything I don't have to try in-person I'll buy online nowadays as the time savings are significant. Produce, nice clothes (i.e. not sweats, etc), stuff like that I'll still buy in person.

    The world's changing. No idea where it'll end up.
  12. I'm not surprised - it makes sense considering a 'generic' type store. In order to appeal to a large enough population, they have to stock some of everything, which typically means they stock nothing specific.

    What we should be more worried about is the content of materials sold in bookstores. B&N is filled with all sorts of nonsense that are NOT books. The one closest to me has displays of LEGOs (is this a toy store), aisles of cards, calendars, a coffee shop, etc. The books that are sold are mostly bubble-gum pop-type books, with little value after a single read. It is not surprising considering the reading abilities of the general public (perhaps I should say 'inabilities').
  13. I know I'm just one user, but I keep the wireless on my Kindle Paperwhite deactivated. I just keep the books either on my PC harddrive or in the Kindle's onboard memory (not from an environmental standpoint, but a privacy standpoint, don't want books suddenly disappearing, remotely removing books is something amazon have done before).

    I don't know what environmental impact the production of the Kindle etc costs (obviously there's the added energy impact if you use cloud storage as you said), but the impact of mass printing can be fairly hefty too.

    Over here Currys (one of the largest electronics stores) merged with PC World to become a single store entity and Comet (the only other really large electronics store we had) closed shop completelly.

    Have to agree with the record and video stores dying off, most of the large chains in the UK have died over the past decade (Virgin, MVC, Zavvi, FOPP) and now HMV, the last big music & video chain, has recently gone into administration. Blockbuster is also on the rocks, but that's hardly surprising either.
  14. 4dog


    Aug 18, 2012
    Its simple, they cant afford to pay people and pay their healthcare, it costs too much, end result , downsizing, get used to it.
  15. 4dog


    Aug 18, 2012
    :bag: just getting ready
  16. For what?
  17. hover


    Oct 4, 2008
    Yeah, for what indeed? Your comment there was not exactly provocative, considering the economic climate...curious about the tone of the "get used to it" comment.
  18. UncleFluffy


    Mar 8, 2009
    Head Tinkerer, The Flufflab
    There's a nice ebook management package called "Calibre" and there are add-ons available that will allow you to pull an Amazon purchase off your Kindle and onto your hard drive so you can keep a backup copy in case Amazon pull that sort of stunt again.
  19. It's good! I downloaded it up a couple weeks back to keep the library in check, nice piece of freeware!
  20. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Speaking just personally, I like the brick-and-mortar experience when I'm just interested in browsing. I've found a lot of cool books that I wasn't particuarly looking for when I was in a brick-and-mortar store. However, if there's something specific I'm interested in, it's always Amazon. I guess I go there because I know that unless it's some sort of rare, out of print book, I'll be able to find it there. It's hit and miss when it comes to a B&N.

    That's the same when it comes to music retail. Ideally, I'd love to stroll into a music store, try out a bunch of basses or amps, and find something I dig. Unfortunately, where I live, the music stores generally cater to the beginner and hobbyist - understandable considering that's where they're going to make most of their money. There aren't enough professional musicians around to sustain them moving high-end items. But that means I have to look elsewhere for pro-level gear. If a local shop stocks any pro gear, it's usually "safe" stuff (i.e., Fender and Marshall). I'm not going to walk into a local music store and walk out with a Bergantino cab or a Warwick bass. If I'm interested in something like that, it's going to either have to be a four hour drive somewhere or go online, whether that's going online for new or used.