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Survival of Barnes & Noble

Caboose At Florence Railroad Museum in Florence, South Carolina

Leaving the Sand Hills

Yesterday, I drove from my mother’s house near Black Creek down to Florence, SC, a mid-sized town located a little ways inland from Myrtle Beach. My destination was the Barnes & Noble bookstore located in the Magnolia shopping mall. Once there I enjoyed a nice tall cup of dark coffee and a piece of coffee cake before I began my browse of the stacks. About an hour later I left the mall storefront with a copy of Poets and Writers Magazine tucked under my arm. Despite my recent plunge into the brave new world of being an ebook author, my buying habits have remained strictly paper.

To Nook Or Not To Nook

However, I could not help to notice the old-fashioned B & W Nook and the brand-new color Nook on sale as you entered the store. I was impressed by the fact that these devices used WiFi and had limited access to the web. For a brief moment, I contemplated a purchase, but common sense quickly reared its ugly head and so I walked out of the store with just the magazine. With over a half dozen short story and novella pieces available through Amazon and Smashwords, I was very curious to see how the B & N electronic bookshelf looked like. Unfortunately, this will have to wait for another day.

Best of Both Worlds

Still, it’s hats off to this bookstore chain, who saw the opportunity to enter the electronic publishing field and give Amazon some much-needed competition. My guess that is without their ebook venture, this company would be standing next in line to Borders at the bankruptcy court. For me, these bookselling giants have been a fun place to buy a super-strong cup of coffee and check out the current market. On occasion I have attended a book reading or lecture at one of these places, while still managing to send a good portion of my book purchases to the independents. It’s a fine line, but over the last few years, I have been able to enjoy the best of these two worlds.

No Crystal Ball

How these various booksellers will fare in the near future is anybody’s guess. The rise of ebooks will definitely change things, but no one knows just how. Though now competing in the ebook world, Borders has a difficult road to financial solvency. Charging to publish may be hard for some authors to swallow. And as far as the independents go, they may benefit from the troubles of the big chains, but only if enough people continue to crave the concrete reality of ink on paper.

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