Though some of us persist in our refusal to even enter into discussions regarding “the future of the book,” there’s no longer any point in denying that there are now all sorts of people who are positively gung ho about the possibilities of portable reading devices and electronic books. People are buying them in staggering numbers and you can already buy some knock-off version of a Kindle at the Pump N Munch. Print devotees may relish fantasies about these gadgets ultimately languishing in thrift stores, garage sales, and landfills—someday every Third World urchin will have an e-reader! How can that not be a good thing?—but for at least one more holiday cycle we’re all just going to have to play along with what is essentially an upscale Cabbage Patch Doll phenomenon that creates serious money for maybe a dozen already onerously wealthy people.
This week’s big news on the e-book front is Google’s launch of its eBookstore. One more pig has joined the pile! According to MobyLives, however, this pig might not be quite so piggish as the other pigs in the pile; through Google’s entry in the e-book biz, Nathan Ihara writes, “American Booksellers Association bookstores now have the opportunity to sell eBooks directly from their websites, offering them a first opportunity to take advantage of the rapid increase in the eBook market and to fight back against the corporate juggernauts of Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple.”
It’s obviously early, but the list of independent stores that are already hawking their e-book wares over at Google is modestly encouraging. Paul Constant, writing for the Seattle Stranger’s Slog blog (quoted in the MobyLives piece), says that before indies can hope to generate real online traffic and sales, they “need to figure out ways to make their websites into destinations that are just as interesting, appealing, and welcoming as their physical stores.”
The Google development is encouraging, in other words, but Constant reminds the little guys that they still have work to do:
Like it or not, your website is just as important as your physical store; the bookselling business is about to go through a change as dynamic as when Barnes & Noble and Borders first came on the scene, or when Amazon suddenly became the go-to bookseller for America. This time, indie booksellers have a shot at reclaiming some ground from the big boys; if you blow it, you'll go out of business. It's that simple.
Source: MobyLives, The Stranger