In the late 1990s, the book industry was upended by the rise of the superstore. With big footprints in exurban shopping centers, Barnes & Noble (BKS) and Borders (BGP) superstores offered what many shopping-mall-sized and downtown mom and pop stores couldn't: aisles upon aisles of hardbacks, paperbacks and magazines, and cushy cafés to lounge around and read them in, for hours on end. Thousands of independent booksellers found themselves outclassed by such accoutrements, and went out of business.
But what seemed like a secular shift turned out to be a mere blip in the history of selling the printed word; today, the once-mighty superstores are struggling mightily. Borders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection back in February and is in the midst of closing 30% of its stores. Barnes & Noble, once thought indomitable, is hurting, too. With its stock down nearly 80% over the last five years, the retailer still hasn't been able to find a willing buyer since it put itself on the market last August, and it may end its search altogether.
The road ahead for Barnes & Noble will prove tough. Few brick and mortar companies have successfully negotiated the choppy waters to safe digital harbors. But Barnes & Noble, unlike Borders, has one bright spot going for it. That bright spot, in fact, might one day be Barnes & Noble, period. And that bright spot is, of course, the Nook ereader and ebook business. More
The book industry thinks its digital transformation is happening even faster than it did with music and movies.
At the GigaOm Big Data conference in New York City this week, Barnes & Noble (BKS) executive Marc Parrish took the stage to discuss rapid changes in the book publishing industry.
"The book business is changing more radically now, and quicker, than movies or music or newspapers have, because we're doing it in a MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Mar 25, 2011 1:31 PM ET
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