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February 14, 2011 / Brent Sears

Changes in Reading: Beyond Borders

As I prepared for a trip to Australia last summer I was faced with three choices: book, Nook, or Kindle?  Books take up too much space.  (I finished my first before I completed the train ride from Syracuse to NYC.)  Nook was a good choice, but their wireless service only covers the USA.  The Kindle offered world-wide wireless, so I went with it.

It felt good sitting in the Sydney airport downloading my third book for the trip before reaching my destination.  How in the world had I ever travelled and lived abroad without an eReader?  I knew then that bookstores, and libraries for that matter, were in trouble, and this week Borders confirmed it.

According to The Wall Street Journal , Borders will be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week.  It is not surprising.  There are so many different way to get books now, and big-box retail stores didn’t anticipate Amazon’s ability to change consumer buying practices.

“I think that there will be a 50% reduction in bricks-and-mortar shelf space for books within five years, and 90% within 10 years,” says Mike Shatzkin, chief executive of Idea Logical Co., a New York consulting firm.Book stores are going away.”

And I know I am part of the extinction.  Not to mention my habit of reading entire books at the cafe, but now browsing for titles is going to be a different experience.  It is great to go into B&N or Borders and just look through the isles.  I have found so many amazing books that way.  Now titles and authors will be found through word of mouth or sharing on the Internet.

In one way, the physical walls of the book store have been opened to the world, but in another it creates a different user experience with books that changes reading.  This is the interesting problem that Seth Godin and the Domino Project (partnering with Amazon, of course) are currently working on answer.



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