It may be that Amazon is just about to drive another retail chain out of business. This time it’s media chain Hastings, whose 126 stores sell movies, music, and books. The company has announced it is looking for a buyer, and if one can’t be found it will begin closing down the entire chain.

Assigning all the blame to Amazon is actually a little unfair. In fact, the market forces that torpedoed Hastings are more likely to be the same ones that drove Blockbuster under: video on demand services such as Netflix and Hulu, and music on demand services like Spotify and Pandora.

“With movies, books, music, you are seeing a lot of change in companies as developers are trying to better meet the needs of consumers,” said Neil Meredith, assistant professor of economics at West Texas A&M. “Consumers can go online, don’t have to go anywhere and can have more access to content that is seamlessly-delivered to them at a price point that makes sense economically. You don’t have the overhead (costs) of a brick-and-mortar store.”

But Amazon’s pressure on the book business hasn’t helped that portion of Hastings’s business either. Meredith believes more brick-and-mortar stores will disappear as buying and consuming media continue to migrate online.

This probably doesn’t mean anything for e-books directly, but a lot of people who buy e-books like to buy print books, too. If these chains continue to close, they’ll lose that much flexibility in where they buy. But then again, the closure of music store chains in the late 90s and early 2000s hasn’t meant the end of the organized sales of music, so other alternatives will spring up. And perhaps there’s hope for the stores yet, if they can manage to adapt.


The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail