SIMBA Report: Loss of Bookstores Does Not Translate to Increased Ebook Sales
A new study from research firm SIMBA Information reveals some unsettling information: The loss of physical bookstores in 2011 did not translate to ebook growth.
The fourth edition of its Trends in Trade Book Retailing posits that the showroom effect is real, and that physical discovery is a factor, even in ebook sales.
"It may go against common sense, but the loss of hundreds of physical bookstores and several million square feet of book retailing space in 2011 actually negatively affected the expansion of e-book usage," says Michael Norris, senior analyst of Simba Information's Trade Books Group, in a press release for the release of the report, which is available for purchase now.
At issue seems to be quantifying the value of physical discovery, whether that involves finding a way to reward bookstores for sales they generate elsewhere, or online retailers investing in bricks-and-mortar locations. Barnes & Noble has sort of already been doing this, though they came at it through the back door, converting their physical stores into showcases for their NOOK devices and the content that could be purchased on them. And back in February, rumors flew fast and furious that Amazon had plans to open a showcase location.
"Imagine a future that allows bookstore browsers to wave their Smartphone, tablet or another device near a physical book when they want to buy the e-book version immediately. That idea can move even further as the consumer who buys the physical book can allow friends or strangers to do the same when the book has long left the store, giving the bookstore credit for the sale," says Norris in the SIMBA release. "A system like that would allow bookstores to cash in on their value, give publishers an incentive to invest more in the physical product, and maybe also prevent the industry from consolidating too much power with too few retailers."