Thursday, February 25, 2010

Brick and Mortar Giants rush into the digital arena, but can the dinosaurs compete with the deep efficiencies of their new competition?

Mobylives posts a link to a Publisher Weekly article that quotes Barnes and Noble's CEO Steve Ringo as saying that Barnes and Nobles will transition from a brick and mortar bookstore into an "E-commerce retailer," and that his booksellers will become "e-book evangelists."

I posted my thoughts on the possibility of this new Barnes and Nobles, as a comment on Mobylives, and now I am cross posting them here:

I think this is a really bad move for Barnes and Nobles. Not the selling of E-books, but making it the core of their business. They risk loosing focus on their brand and their key business of selling books. Such hubris can be dangerous.

There is also the question about their position as a stable player in the E-book market. There is a lawsuit over their vehicle for this transition, the Nook, by former partner Spring Design. This threatens to derail the Nook in its current incarnation. Spring Design has recently signed a deal with Barnes and Noble competitor Borders to release a more robust but similar e-reader, the Alex. Borders conservative attitude to moving into new forms of retail may have finally paid off.

The e-book market has a huge potential for retailers especially those with the market share to transition large portions of their paper book customers to new e-book readers. But I still wonder if its the right way for to go. I almost feel that moving towards a point of services printing model is the best direction for large chains to go. Training costumers to go online or electronic moves them away from the space of the store and the bookstore experience. That physical presence and experience is the one advantage that Barnes and Nobles and Borders have over established and upstart online sellers which can operate more efficiently, and at a lower cost in the internet and electronic markets then a company with split priorities. Borders and Barnes and Nobles could quickly find themselves flanked on both sides.

We could see a huge revival in independent stores. An Independent store rooted in the community and able to compete with title availability thanks to point of service printing technologies poses a real danger for a large big box retail chain struggling in two markets at once. Unlike the big 3 book retailers, Independent bookstores are already moving to adopt the point of service model with three stores in the Seattle area purchasing new machines. Xerox has also gotten in to the game, which means these machines will most likely get smaller, more reliable, and cheaper.

One thing is for sure, whether large or small the book stores of tomorrow are going to be radically different from the bookstores of today.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Book News Roundup Friday - Volume 1 Issue 3

- A library in New Jersey is setting up blind dates for patrons on valentines day... with books. This according to a North Jersey news site. In this programs librarians have wrapped books pulled from all over the collection, and patrons can pick one up. The magic is that it's a clever way to get people to read something they never would have before. Thanks to mobylives for digging this up!

- The founder of Second Life has decided to create an artificial intelligence on Second Life. The Link to the article is here, and I stole it from Boing Boing. This has huge implications for lots of stuff. I almost think that it would be an ideal environment for an AI though. With all the libraries and what not on there it could avoid some of the problems of AI. Specifically giving a new intelligence reference points that would make communicating with it possible. In Housuke Nojiri's Usuper of the Sun the AI has just that problem. With out a set of indexing experiences the moment of sentience leads to an existential feedback loop that makes AI functionally a vegetable. Its logical to assume that real AI might face the same problem. Second life could provide a sort of handy set of memories to make any future AI more stable. Then again, that could just be the crazy talking. Either way, really exciting!

-TOR.Com has a really interesting article on the nature of good and evil, and scifi. Really interesting and written by Jon Evans, check it out here.

- NYPL Blog has some really good detective fiction recommends.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

News Roundup - Vol. 1 Iss. 2

The news so far from Thursday, the 11th of February:

-Looks like the America's library is closed again. Why, snow why? Via Also, Mobylives is down today because of the snow. I'm a sad panda.

- The King County Library System takes a look at the portrait work of Jill Greenberg. The review of her newest book is here. Via KCLS Library Talk

- Author Jon Scalzi checks out some new arrivals on his blog. Via Whatever. Scalzi also recently published a book called Your Hate Mail will be Graded of hate mail from his blog. I am really excited to read it.

- The Wall Street Journal has a very interesting article about book selling and demographics. via Bookninja.

- In other news Shelf Talk has all the dirt on the latest about the final book in the Hunger Games Trilogy here.

- Some changes in the catalog. Digital records are being increasingly integrated into the general catalog search, in this case OAister. Check it out here!

- Sup

Book News Vol. 1 issue 1

I have decided to take a page from Bookninja and do a news roundup. The reason is quite simple, my Twitter account has become cluttered. It should supplement this blog, not subvert it. It must be really annoying to be in the middle of one of my twitter spews. So, hurray! New feature! This should be posted almost every weekday.

So, what was in the news yesterday?
Book News:
-Diary that inspired Go Down, Moses discovered. Via NY Times.

Library Stuff:
-Library of Congress is closed! Pesky Snow! Via LOC Twitter. gives you the power to make a list widget. Look for some here soon! Via's blog.

- NYPL book chats The Shadow of the Wind.

This is the industry:
-Its the market stupid! E-booksellers should think about E-book buyers. Via NY Times.

- An older Cory Doctorow piece on copyright.

- Canadian copyright group backtracks, result a more sane set of recommendations. Via Boing Boing.