When Borders went bankrupt it was more than the collapse of a major bookstore chain. According to this post by Joe Esposito in Scholarly Kitchen, it was “wake-up call to any publisher who takes its business ecosystem for granted, whether that publisher is in books, journals, or anything else.” Admittedly, the demise of Borders was in large measure due to new technology like the iPhone and the Kindle, strong competition from Amazon and numerous management mistakes by Border itself. However, according to this article it is indicative of a problem bigger that the loss of one bookstore chain. “The real thing to take from Borders’ collapse is that the old infrastructure will not always be there. In one stroke trade publishers lost a huge chunk of their distribution network.” And as the transition from print to ebooks continues there is a real danger that intermediaries that handle print distribution” will struggle to survive unless they “develop strong digital solutions.” There is also a bit of “catch 22” in all of this for publishers. They need to be mindful of the threat to this infrastructure because it will impact the profits from their legacy print business which in turn are crucial to support the transition to electronic formats – the very transition that is helping feed the threat in the first place.
Of course the question for many of us is what does all of this mean for libraries.
Tom is originally from Brooklyn N.Y but has spent his entire professional career in South Carolina, most recently as Head of Reference Services at the College of Charleston. As part of the Against the Grain and Charleston Conference team, he serves as the associate editor of the print ATG as well as the co-editor of the webpage. Tom’s conference duties include coordinating the Penthouse Suite interviews as well as the conference poster sessions.
He received his MLS from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and a second master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston and the Univ. of South Carolina. His wife Carol and he live in downtown Charleston and she is an artist and a tour guide offering historic walking tours of the city.