This week, Borders Group Inc. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and announced it plans to close almost one-third of its current 642 bookstores. As Borders is the second-largest bookstore chain in the country, and rumors of its financial problems have been surfacing for quite some time as its primary brick and mortar rival Barnes and Noble has managed to stay ahead of Borders by introducing the Nook, its e-reader which is set to compete with Amazon’s Kindle. It’s also worth noting that, both bookstores are no match for the online shopping behemoth Amazon when it comes to selling low priced online reading materials.
Here it starts to become clear as written before in this blog that the printed book is dead and this is the first wave of brick and mortar impacts as the paradigm wave of change builds to its full tipping point force. As to fuel this pending “wave”, the closure of all of these stores will mean fewer places for consumers to buy printed books, which in turn is expected to speed the pace of e-book sales. It is here that the causal loop will now start to build much like a latent shift in tectonic plates which in turn will lead to a tsunami as the movement becomes viral.
In addition this new media attention will also start to get people who don’t know what an ebook is, or haven’t even considered buying a Nook or Kindle, to start to understand that there is an alternative to paper books as well as all the advantages the eReader will bring. Again in turn this will fuel the viral wave away from the ink on paper printed word to that of electron induced flexibility of an e-Reader which can slip thousands of books into our jacket pocket.
Also if we want to look for the ultimate reduction of our carbon foot print this is it, as from the destruction of tree stocks for pulp, to the chemical waste in processing, and the transportation impact of exhaust release, etc. With this said, its hard to understand why there hasn’t been a big push already because of this as there are real impacts to be realized by moving away from the “mechanical book” to the “material book”. However we spend our time pointing out many other things and yet people seem unwilling to point to the venerable book as a source of “global browning” if you will.
The next question is what is next for the retail book market? As Barnes and Noble pushes its Nook product, it too is taking away the reason to visit a retail store as why venture out into a cold February day when you can sit in front of the fireplace and download the latest Stephan King Novel? At a given point they too will reach a “tipping point” where the return on investment from retail store sales will no longer justify their cost and they too will slip off into the setting sun as the era of Guttenberg comes to a close…