The first time I noticed that Borders was in trouble was last year when I visited the UK and saw a closing down sale at the Speke branch of Borders. My first question was what would my Dad do in his spare time? He had single handedly allowed Borders to stay open for so long with his constant visits buying books that could have easily have been found cheaper online. The immediacy isn’t there in the online purchase though so as the ex librarian he is, he wanted to touch the books and look at them in real life rather than virtually.
Now the news that Borders has filed for bankruptcy in the States after closing down all of the branches in the UK suggests that there are very few people like my Dad around now and the online spend is starting to eat into the traditional bricks and mortar businesses to an even greater degree. Any business now that doesn’t have a credible online strategy and within that strategy an equally important mobile strategy can start kissing goodbye to its nether regions now because sooner or later their market will disappear.
So have people stopped buying books and magazines, the staple diet of Borders?
In fact book sales are extremely healthy through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, the biggest online retailers of books and within that healthy market there is a burgeoning market which publishers need to get on now, the ebook. EBooks are actually outselling the physical book in many cases. Against that a friend of mine selling a book online recently reported 9 to 1 sales in favour of… the physical book. However in certain markets the ebook is king.
Now as an entrepreneur there is one thing that one of my mentors always drills into me, you go where the starving crowd is if you have a hot dog stand. It doesn’t matter about quality of product, feel and taste. If the crowd isn’t there you will not sell.
Where is the starving crowd in the book market? Well not in the Borders bookstores anymore evidently. The crowd is hanging around their kindles, tablets and iPads. If you are not producing a digital version and enhancing that digital version of your books for those who choose the online version then you are missing a huge trick. The ePub format for Apple and the Kindle formats available allied to today’s announcement from Apple about subscription based magazines being available now in the App Store means that there are so many different ways to market opening up for any publisher or indeed writer.
Now to bring this home. Here in Spain the paradigm will take time to arrive, quite a bit of time as we are years behind the more mature online markets, however it is on its way. The movements we can see in the States and the UK will come with time. How are you preparing your business and your writing and publishing for the new paradigm?
Borders is no more, long live the new King, whoever that is.