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So says a report from Simba Information.  From the press release:

A recent report by media and publishing forecast firm Simba Information found that even though bookstores have lost some of their customer base over the years, the channel feeds into the e-book universe by serving as a ‘book showroom’ for the roughly 10% of U.S. adults who buy e-books.

“Believing that adults will begin taking to e-books in large numbers because of Borders’ liquidation is a dangerous assumption,” said Michael Norris, senior analyst of Simba Information’s Trade Books Group, commenting on the report. “Since most adults buy books from multiple channels and enjoy using bookstores for browsing, the loss of a ‘book showroom’ can impact print books and e-books in unexpected ways.”

Data from Simba indicates that the more channels a consumer uses, the more likely he or she is to buy — even though bookstores are sometimes cut out of the action. In a Simba survey of over 110 bookstores across the country, 38% indicated that their (former) regular customers who own a Barnes & Noble Nook or an Amazon Kindle ‘often or very often’ return to browse without buying anything. 43% of the same booksellers also said non-regular customers often or very often come to browse before leaving to buy from another retailer.

“Publishers should be working around the clock to find ways to make chain and independent bookstores stronger, and not for reasons having to do with sentimentality,” Norris said. “If the only retailers left selling books are those that don’t need to, publishers will lose their power and relevance overnight. I genuinely worry that books may follow the same dreadful path of music, where gadgets like the iPod spring up to make consumption easy, the showrooms for media discovery close, piracy becomes a cultural expectation and the market shrinks by billions as more people buy less.”

The report, “Trends in Trade Book Retailing 2011,” also shows the interconnected world of retailing with thorough profiles of the bookstore, online and other major retailing channels, outlining key demographic details and trends unique to each, including the gender, age, household income, education level and purchasing habits of the buyers. The significant influence of non-bookstore physical store retailers like Walmart and Target and the influence of e-book sellers like Amazon.com are also covered.

Thanks to Michael von Glahn for the link.


  1. It’s an understandable warning. However, I remember too many years of going to a bookstore to browse, only to find a lack of new material by favorite authors, the same books crammed together in shrinking aisles, and more tables of pop junk to maneuver through to get to other sections… that’s why I stopped bookstore browsing long ago. Bookstores need a reinvention to properly support browsing, and to get a cut of the ebook sale if it is made at the store. Any bookstore that puts too much effort into selling the latest pop star twaddle, and too little into supporting the ebook market, is going to have a hard time lasting.

  2. This is nothing new. I used to browse B&N and add the books I was interested in to my Amazon Wish List. Now, I just get them for my Kindle. It’s really no different than comparison shopping between physical stores, which has happened since shopping was invented.

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