Friday, July 22, 2011

As We Go, So Goes the Nation?

Hold off on buying that ticket to Tulsa--
Book club met last night, valiantly gathered around a fire pit because, dang it, thermometer notwithstanding, it's summer. While the rest of America fried like the proverbial egg on a sidewalk, we counted ourselves lucky not to be wearing fleece. And I'll bet any other book club in America which tackled Edith Wharton's Summer spent way more time on all her descriptions of heat. Hot weather, hot emotions, hot times on a Mexican blanket...

But while we may not be in step with our compatriots weather-wise, we were utterly representative of publishing trends. Of the nine of us gathered, five of us had e-readers: two iPads (with Kindle for iPad), two Kindles, and one Nook. Two more had library copies, and the other two might have owned the book from high school. Now, we usually try to pick books available in paperback or at the library, but it's unusual to have a month where no one had to buy a copy.

Publishers Weekly summed up the latest AAP report this way:
All major adult print segments—hardcover, paperback and mass market—showed a decline in sales in May...While e-books showed a steep uptick of 146.9% for the month, bringing in $73.4 million in sales, adult hardcovers dropped 38.2%, adult paperbacks dropped 14.3%, and adult mass market fell 39.4%. For the calendar year, e-books brought in $389.7 million in sales, a 160.1% climb over the same period 2010.

Not only that, but Borders has finally cried uncle, which had our book club spending two minutes mourning the fact and five minutes thinking we had gift cards we needed to use up, and do you think we could pick up the Hunger Games boxed-set at the sale..?

People love bookstores (I count myself in this crowd) and bemoan their death, but how many of our reading purchases are still made in them? And I'm not talking about Amazon killing the bookstore, either. So many people I know buy all their physical books at Costco! Amazon at least offers millions of books--Costco a few hundred. Traditional publishers don't have a prayer if they're jockeying for a few spaces on the Costco table.

I don't buy many books, but I make an effort to get them at my local, independent bookseller now, if I can't get them free from the library or for less than $5 on my Kindle. I've never bought a book at Costco, just like I've never bought one at the grocery store. The thought that "everyone else is reading it" makes me less likely to pick it up. But that's just me, I've been told.

I'd love to hear from you in the Comments. How many non-gift book purchases have you made recently, and where did you get them?


  1. I buy almost 100% of my books at the bookstore (the few exceptions are due to more obscure titles that I buy from I love browsing through the mystery section to find new authors and new releases from favorites. That's the benefit of the bookstore that I don't see in an ereader - it's far more cumbersome to "browse" in an ereader (although, to be fair, I don't have a Kindle or Nook... so I use Kindle for Android on my phone - for the two books I've bought in that form).

  2. I buy, almost exclusively, from It's so darn easy, especially since I have a Prime shipping account and don't pay anything for 2-day shipping.

  3. (Except, of course, when it comes to books by my favorite local author.)

  4. I buy mostly books as gifts at bookstores; the last one at Borders because I had a coupon. I download Free Friday books to my nook and download new books of interest to the Nook from the library. I still check out books from the library as well as books on cd to listen to in the car. I recently bought three copies of David McCullogh's The Greater Journey because I am trying to use up all those BOMC bonus points. Ebooks do save shelf space but I resent paying more for an ebook than for the same book as new issue paperback!
    L. Stevenson

  5. @Mona--totally agree that online browsing is blah. But I also confess to being a total user: I'll browse at a bookstore and then put it on hold at the library.

    @Marie and Leslie-- :) How do you browse?

  6. Browse: Bookstore, library, Amazon.

    Buy: Half-price Books, Seattle Library sale, rummage sales, (and only for a second time EVER buying there, bought MBC at Amazon.)

    But hey don't judge your cave-dwelling friends--some may not want to spend their tiny discretionary income on an e-reader. :)

  7. You're absolutely right, Ruth--e-readers are still not as cheap as those options. Like I said, if I can't buy the book for free or cheap on the Kindle, I get it elsewhere...

  8. Yes, quite, good point. On a related topic, sorta, we heart UW Bookstore for designating Everliving a staff favorite. Some time ago I purchased the excellent What's so Great About Christianity by Dinesh D'Souza there, and made a point of telling them I picked them over the big box stores.