From: Joseph Esposito <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2014 11:54:50 -0500
I read this post just prior to boarding a flight from Los Angeles to
New York. By my estimate well over half the passengers were watching
a movie or sports event on the seat-back video display. So in
addition to the question of print vs. digital books, we have the
competition with other media. My view is that consumer publishing,
insofar as it is a species of entertainment, will be seriously
challenged by the many new media alternatives. In this respect, Apple
is a bigger threat than Amazon.
As for shelf space at Barnes & Noble, this is much discussed in trade
book circles. We had an unsustainable high point for book shelf space
in the 1990s (the increased shelf space for superstores did not
materially improve sales in the aggregate, so the cost of the retail
operations inevitably would make the model collapse, even without the
introduction of ebooks). A B&N store at that time with 150,000 titles
was not 100% books (calendars, toys, cards, etc. were always part of
the mix), but there is no doubt that calling B&N a bookstore now seems
almost fraudulent. Interestingly, other stores have now begun to sell
books (e.g., Anthropologie). So is the shelf space growing or
What is clear, though, is that it is shrinking for intellectually
serious books. A clothing boutique may carry books, but probably not
those that the members of this list consider relevant.
In about 1995 I saw the entire Loeb Classical Library in a Borders on
Michigan Avenue in Chicago. I knew that was simply marketing, an
attempt to make the store seem more serious than it was, to add "tone"
to the off-price books in the front of the store.
The book business is a small one. It will persist, but over time it
will likely return to its core constituency of serious readers, most
of whom will find their book online. I don't miss print books myself,
but I do miss bookstores.
On Sun, Nov 30, 2014 at 4:49 PM, LIBLICENSE <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> From: "Jim O'Donnell" <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2014 16:11:05 -0500
> Back to my old haunts, here's today's report on the progress of e-reading:
> There were about 250 people on the train, quite full for Thanksgiving.
> I should have said years ago doing this that I always measure between
> Metropark and Philadelphia.
> 114 people were engaged with electronic devices -- laptops, tablets,
> readers, smartphones. I can't count on three hands at once, so I'm
> only approximating when I say that 30-50% of the devices in use were
> 37 people were engaged with paper materials of some kind or other, of
> whom 17 were holding actual paper codex books. (Other paper:
> newspaper, magazines, school notebooks). One of them was the first
> person I have ever seen after many years of looking to be reading a
> volume of Greek literature with the Greek text visible -- a Loeb
> Classical Library volume of Aelian, a minor figure and distinctly an
> advanced taste. (A few weeks ago I did see a gentleman of mature
> years, who proved on investigation to be a person of mature wealth and
> family lineage, reviewing the basics of ancient Greek in the classic
> textbook of Chase and Phillips, which he first used in prep school
> about 60 years ago. Reading Aelian is a large step beyond that:
> enjoyable, without a question, inasmuch as his works are compilations
> of anecdotes and lore of quite dubious value.)
> I was, um, er, watching an Inspector Montalbano video on my iPad . . .
> Jim O'Donnell