1. LMThomas
    Offline

    LMThomas Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2011
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    4

    Does Border's Bankruptcy mean fewer people are buying books?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by LMThomas, Mar 3, 2011.

    I have a few friends who've started illegally downloading books for free. It seems like this is a growing trend, and I wonder what impact it will have on up and coming writers. If you look at what illegal downloading has done to the music industry, it's pretty scary. Record companies profits are down by quite a lot compared to the 90's, which in turn affects bands, especially new bands. Unless you're the Rolling Stones or Dave Matthews, it's going to be really tough to make a comfortable living writing music these days. Pretty soon only spoiled trust fund kids will be writing music, because they'll be the only ones who can afford to. Personally, I like holding a book in my hands, but I'm not sure that younger people people the same way. What do you guys think?

    http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2011/02/18/2011-02-18_bankruptcy_of_borders_proves_that_flooding_the_market_with_books_doesnt_work.html
     
  2. Boysarn
    Offline

    Boysarn Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2011
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    2
    I think it's very unfair to be compared the music industry. Music from a cd or downloaded from the internet sounds just the same and provides the exact same experience.

    Downloading a ebook and reading from a computer compared to reading from a book in your warm cousy bed are two totally different experiences despite the text being the same.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Ice Queen
    Offline

    Ice Queen Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Scotland
    I'm one of those traditionalists too. The thing about a book is that you can feel it in your hands, turn its pages, make notes in it about themes, whatever you like. Write poetry in the margins, etc. A book is something you can feel, breathe, cuddle even if you really want XD It sounds completely corny, but if I read a book and I love the story, I get attatched to the physical thing as well! My copy of Frankenstein has notes on most pages, highlighted quotations that I like; notes about the characters and stuff.

    It's not the same with electronics. It never could be. I can love a book, but not a screen. Know what I mean? I need to have my shelves stocked with the things. Hmf. I was gutted when Borders closed, but there's still Waterstones, WHSmiths, even Amazon. I love books, and I hope that if they ever ever ever go out of production and into virtual form only, it will be long after my old carcass has shucked its mortal coil.

    :/
     
  4. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    Thing is someone who is illegally downloading your book probably wouldn't have bought it anyway, may have got it from a library, charity shop or borrowed it from a friend. Same goes with music - ever taped a friend's CD ? I always bought the ones of artists I really liked.

    The change in the music industry is actually allowing acts to come through and access to artists that normally wouldn't make it. People are getting to choose who they listen to and support. I suspect the same will happen in the writing industry - those that can promote themselves and use other medium will make it.
     
  5. Chronopunk
    Offline

    Chronopunk Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Lane Closed Ahead, TX
    No, it means Borders was managed by idiots.
     
  6. Eunoia
    Offline

    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2010
    Messages:
    4,395
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    England
    ^ Haha.

    Buying and downloading books is different to music but I can see why you chose the analogy.

    Anyway, I hate the whole idea of downloading books, especially illegally. I wouldn't be able to read an entire book on a screen, it just wouldn't work. I need to have the book in my hands, to be able to turn the pages and generally feel the book. Also, books smell nice.

    Considering all the technology, I suppose it does mean people are buying fewer books. People like the thought of carrying a load of books around all in one little gadget. But you also have to take into account the current economy and whatnot.
     
  7. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    True and ebook readers are also allowing those that read avidly to own more books without needing to worry about book shelves and they can't be past onto to charity shops either so actually could encourage more sales.
     
  8. Terry D
    Offline

    Terry D Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2011
    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Southeast Iowa
    Hard copy books are not going to fade away. Video didn't kill movie theatres, and cable/satellite TV hasn't killed broadcast TV. Fewer books will be sold, but they will still be there. Just think what would happen to the furniture industry! No more bookshelves!
     
  9. Eunoia
    Offline

    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2010
    Messages:
    4,395
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    England
    ^ Oh no, should we be worried about bookshelves too?!
     
  10. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    I don't think the fall in record-industry profits has much to do with illegal downloads, actually. There are plenty of other things that I reckon have contributed to that fall:
    • We're in a global recession. When people have less to spend, they'll cut down on music purchases before they cut down on paying their mortgage.
    • There has been a steady shift since the 1960s from record companies being run by people passionate about the music to being run by accountants. This means a shift from the "interesting" to the "safe".
    • The accountants seem to be responding to a declining market by narrowing the variety of music they put out and focussing on the most profitable areas. But there's no more money in those safe areas than there was before, in fact there's less, so they have more and more product chasing fewer and fewer sales.
    • The role of the record companies is unclear now that music production has become more democratised. I still buy quite a bit of music, but almost all of it is from the artists themselves at gigs, and almost all of that is produced by the artists themselves; the record companies don't even get a sniff of that money. This is good news for those artists who can manage the business side of things (and those who couldn't always got stiffed by the record companies anyway).
    All of that has parallels in the book publishing industry, but it doesn't mean that downloads are a threat, any more than mix tapes or lending books to friends are. It just means that the way of doing business is changing, and the author needs to be more business-savvy.
     
  11. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    lol I have 6, 5 shelf bookcases. However google has done more to reduce my need for them. Stories only take up 4 shelves. Kids books a further 3 shelves - 4 are nonfiction reading and the rest non fiction research and reference. To be honest I tend to type into google and don't really need the research and reference anymore.
     
  12. Silver_Dragon
    Offline

    Silver_Dragon Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2011
    Messages:
    166
    Likes Received:
    3
    Yeah, it seems that it was more a case of mismanagement than anything else. There are other chains that are still doing well enough.

    I don't agree with some of the author's statements about the publishing industry in that article. I think that he really needs to look at the cost of materials to produce books, marketing, paying authors and in-house staff, as well as the cost incurred by returns before saying that the publishing industry as a whole is colluding to push an overpriced product on the public. The profit margin on books is pretty tiny...definitely larger on hardcovers than on paperbacks, but then again, there are many losses in other areas.

    I don't think anyone really knows what the effect of e-books will be on the publishing industry. I'm more of a traditionalist, like some of the others who posted here. I really like reading paper books. I pirated one e-book (as I needed to read it for a presentation--I had already ordered the paper copy, but it was taking a very long time to come in at the university bookstore, so I read it online while I waited). I didn't like the experience of reading on my laptop at all, but I know some others don't mind. Future generations might like reading on screen.

    So far, it looks like the most frequently downloaded books are large commercial bestsellers, like Twilight. I agree with Elgaisma that most of these people probably wouldn't have bought the book anyway.
     
  13. spklvr
    Offline

    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    734
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Sarpsborg, Norway
    Though it's only possible to illegally download the books that are popular enough to make enough money on their own. At least from my experience. I actually don't mind reading on a computer screen, but I do prefer the "real" version.
     
  14. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    I remember reading an article a long, long time ago about how people were downloading copies of the latest Harry Potter (it might have been the 7th one, though I'm not sure). I think one of Dan Brown's books also had the same issue. So it looks like only the most popular books are being illegally distributed.

    Also, uploading and distributing music is much easier than distributing a book. For the moment, I don't think the book industry has anything to worry about, at least not when it comes to illegal downloading.
     
  15. SeverinR
    Offline

    SeverinR Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2011
    Messages:
    477
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    New Madison Ohio
    There are free books available,
    we're talking for profit books that are pirated into a free download?

    I think anytime there is a down turn in general profit(as in each person, not just corp. profit) people will do without to make their money last.

    Legal and illegal.
    gas prices are up, gasoline thefts are on the rise.

    I don't see reference books in hardback lasting much longer other then for show, or for libraries. Much easier to research with google, then to thumb through pages and pages to find the information you want.

    All my SCA research was done online, information posted from all over the world on how to recreate life in the middle ages, including sewing(by hand), chain maille, wood working by hand, etc. Its out there, and it would take thousands of books to cover just this one group of information.
     
  16. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Google is still only good for fairly superficial research. Get onto any serious academic work and it's still down to a college library to get the information. I'd say that 80% of the material for my BA isn't on the net, and 95% of the material for my MSc isn't. Maybe one day all the textbooks, monographs and papers you need will be on the net, but that's a way off yet.
     
  17. Radhika
    Offline

    Radhika Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    Everyone agrees that there are less books being sold, but B&N are still alive and well - not prosperous, but well.

    Myself - being one of the brains of the younger crowd - would like to have everything be on my Kindle/iPad. What this is saying, is not that I'm not going to download books illegally.
    The truth about downloading books illegally is it's on your computer. Laptops may be extremely portable, but that's not the experience most kids want. We have iPads and Nooks and in our backpacks to read books. When you buy books from there, is it pirated? No!

    Just because the younger crowd is moving towards technology, that doesn't make it pirated. More music is being sold on iTunes than traditional CDs, that doesn't make it pirated (to go with your analogy). Either way, I have seen some pirated books - the formatting of them is horrible and if you try uploading it to your iPad, it's too much trouble and comes out wrong.
     
  18. TommySG
    Offline

    TommySG New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Anchorage Alaska
    I dont think it is an unfair comparision. I like to listen to Albums (records). The Album is adoren with art and pictures and they may have liner notes and I feel a better connection with what the artist is trying to potray. Thin Lizzys JailBreak is an Example. I think people have lost the soul of what a concept album is.
     
  19. Porcupine
    Offline

    Porcupine Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Messages:
    346
    Likes Received:
    21
    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Exactly so. I am still buying non-fiction books. I want detailed well-researched accounts written by somebody who has done a lot of work on the subject I'm interested in. In the internet (Wikipedia included) you will find mostly an assortment of bias, urban legend, and only the basic outline of the facts.
     
  20. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    Like any other research wikkipedia has its bias and its faults but never buy a non-fiction book and assume the facts are accurate and it is bias free either. It pays in the case of non fiction sources to check the author, find the reviews of the work, and double check the facts. Three independent sources on the same facts will usually give you an idea about which are the current accepted thoughts on a matter.

    Quite often Wikkipedia is written by a dedicated enthusiast on the subject and is actually really good. Depending on who wrote the wikkipedia entry it can be one of the best sources.
     
  21. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    If you're doing real academic work then you need to know all about assessing sources. I agree that a random textbook is no more dependable than Wikipedia. Reviews of the work are of some value but not much, and three "independent" sources might give you current accepted thoughts but you're trying to get to the facts, not the current prejudices so that's not usually what you want either. A classic case of this is Lazzerini's 1901 run of the Buffon experiment (an experimental way of determining the value of pi). For over 60 years mathematicians cited this experiment with respect until T H O'Beirne looked at the original paper in 1965 and discovered that the guy's name was Lazzarini (and that the results were almost certainly faked). Everyone -- everyone -- had simply copied, directly or indirectly, the same secondary source which had made a mistake in the spelling of his name.
     
  22. daydreams
    Offline

    daydreams Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2009
    Messages:
    50
    Likes Received:
    3
    I'm not convinced at all that illegal downloads are equal to the same number of lost sales. What is a lost sale? Someone who can't afford books might borrow from a friend or the library, or download it illegally. Would that person have bought it anyway? Perhaps when he can afford books again, that one will be at the list of books to buy. And what about authors who claim to have noticed that letting people download ebooks legally for free results in increased sales of paper books? Not really a lost sale. Or is it a lost sale if only some of those who got the free ebook buy the paperbook? Or is every person who buy the paper book one more gained reader?

    And regarding ebooks, it's a wonderful thing in my opinion. To have more books than you could fit in your bookshelves on a memory card, that is pretty amazing. If they could abandon DRM and such sillinesses, it would be even better.
     
  23. poptarts
    Offline

    poptarts Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2011
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    0
    i like hardbacks since i can't really read things onscreen, but i prefer borrowing books at the library. seriously, if i had to buy every book i'd read borders wouldn't be the only one facing bankruptcy right now.

    (although now that i've heard about the store-closing sales, i might stop by a borders today and buy some of their better nonfiction books.)
     
  24. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    It's different for proper academic work - but for a work of fiction you are more likely to get pulled up for not following the current thought even if it is inaccurate.
     
  25. Zadkeil
    Offline

    Zadkeil New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2011
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Bribie Island, Australia
    In my part of the world I have noticed more bookshops closing down than opening up. Also newspapers are selling less and less as the years go by. I think two things are happening. People are reading online more and literacy rates are falling. The younger people are more interested in video and music than reading.
     

Share This Page