Bookstores feeling pain from digital technologies


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WASHINGTON (AFP) – Pundits might put a different spin on how and when it will happen but all see a struggle for survival by traditional booksellers thanks to a growing shift to electronic books and Internet sales.
And eyes are on the current woes of large US book retailers for how best to face the challenge.
Borders Group, which operates some 500 US stores, said in late January it would delay payments to vendors, landlords and others as it seeks to restructure its debt, but many analysts see bankruptcy or a sale looming for the second-largest US bookseller.
Last year, the money-losing number one US bookstore group, Barnes & Noble, indicated it was in discussions on a sale or other strategic options.
“Disruptive change is coming to the book businesses of the world and they?re looking to the US experience to understand the nature of that change and what to do to prepare for it,” said Mike Shatzkin, head of the consultancy Idea Logical Company and organizer of the Digital Book World conference held recently in New York.
The Internet not only offers lower prices for many products but now can deliver books digitally to devices like Amazon’s Kindle, the Apple iPad and others.
E-book sales, meanwhile, have more than doubled in each of the last three years, according to Shatzkin.
In the coming years, he sees the market for traditional booksellers tumbling from 72 percent of the sales to about 25 percent of the sales, a reduction of two-thirds.
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