Shelf Awareness, an email newsletter about bookstores and book retailing, published a letter to the editor I emailed them last week.
This was in response to several previous letters about independent bookstores grappling with the rise in eBooks.
Jeff Rutherford of Jeff Rutherford Media Relations writes:
With e-books, and especially the Amazon Kindle, the barrier for instant gratification has plummeted. If I hear about a bestseller or backlist title, I can order it and have it delivered within seconds. I hope that independents don’t lose out on the e-book phenomenon. As much as I love printed books, the increase in e-books is inevitable. While Amazon Kindle remains tied to Amazon, why aren’t independents courting Sony for the Sony Reader, Fictionwise or the many iPhone e-book companies?
Scannable barcode technology is available on most smartphones these days. Why not develop a relationship so that a customer in your independent store could scan a barcode on a book and order the e-book immediately from one of these companies? Or better yet, there are numerous Asian electronic companies working on their own e-book reader devices. Why doesn’t the ABA partner with one of those companies to offer an ABA-independent bookstore branded device? When users register their devices, they plug in their favorite locally-owned bookstore and the store receives a small cut from any book that customers purchase on the device.
Sure, there are technology hurdles in the various scenarios I just outlined, but those can be solved. I’d hate for independent bookstores to miss out on the rise of e-books because of a lack of vision or risk taking.