3 Strategies to Help Bookstores Survive Amazon

For some time now, I have been hearing about how bookstores are struggling to stay in business, not only the small, local acim bookstore, but also the big chains, such as Borders. My perception is that Amazon.com’s success is partly responsible for these struggles. I like Amazon.com, and I also like “bricks and mortar” bookstores. Amazon.com’s future seems pretty secure at the moment, so I propose three strategies bookstores can use to remain in business and survive Amazon.com.

Once upon a time, if you wanted to buy a acim bookstore, you bought it from a bookstore. Book buying possibilities have changed. Now you can pay to download a book to an e-book reader or buy it from an online source (e.g., the author’s or publisher’s website, Amazon.com). Book buying behaviors have changed, but bookstores seem to be trying to maintain the way they do business. Other than adding a coffee shop, bookstores now look much like I remember them before Amazon.com made online book shopping practical.

In my opinion, one of the advantages Amazon offers book buyers that bookstores don’t is the breadth of selection. Amazon has a wider selection of books than bookstores. The second advantage is cost. The price to purchase a book online is often lower than the cost bookstores offer. Amazon doesn’t have to pay for store furniture, decorations, floor walkers, fancy buildings, etc. With lower operating costs per book and greater volume, Amazon can keep prices down. As my Aunt Irene used to say, “Ain’t pretty, but it works.” To attract book buyers, bookstores are going in the opposite direction. This doesn’t seem to be working.

Sure, I can buy books directly from bookstore’s websites. I can go to the Borders site, for example, look up some books, and buy them. However, if I’m going to buy books online, I’ll probably buy them from Amazon.com. Bookstores offer a very different experience than online shopping, and I want bookstores to succeed. Thus, the advice I have is for getting more people to buy books in bookstores.


Bookstores need to use the new technologies, not resist them. I’m specifically referring to e-book readers. When I was at a Borders bookstore earlier this week, I checked out the Sony e-book readers they had for sale. I was pretty impressed. The sample models were preloaded with long excerpts from about 15 books. They were firmly attached to the counter, so I couldn’t pick them up, much less walk around with them. While playing with them, I glanced around the store. Against nearly every wall and in every corner, I saw people sitting in comfy chairs reading books. They could browse the shelves, pick up a book, carry it to a chair, and read. I couldn’t do any of that with the e-book readers being displayed. That got me thinking about sales possibilities and buyer behavior.

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