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The Future of the Brick and Mortar Bookstore?

With the recent closings of Borders and Barnes and Nobles bookstores, it is evident that many bookstores may be facing similar fates that video store chains like Blockbusters and Hollywood Video once did. Society is shifting to a more immediate and fast paced nation, in which the ability to access and purchase items on the go or while never leaving the house is becoming more and more convenient. The ability to stream and download books immediately after purchase on digital and mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers is an attractive concept to those who need or want to purchase reading materials.

Many of our Masters in International Business Administration students here at CENSA International College prefer the ability to use online books that can be downloaded as a .pdf file or onto their iPads or Kindles and even laptops. In many cases, the digital versions are less expensive than the printed version of the same book. There are no shipping costs associated with the transaction and the usual and sometimes stressful scenario of the waiting and checking period to see if your book has arrived is eliminated.

Another convenience of ebooks is the ability to rent books and textbooks and once it expires, the book is automatically removed on the expiration date. This reduces the event of not returning a book on time and/or facing penalties or fees. Big name books stores like Borders need not face the same fate as Blockbuster, in which they had to play ‘catch-up’ versus less expensive and time consuming companies like Redbox and Netflix.

Bigger stores like Barnes and Nobles and Borders should simply down size with smaller brick and mortar stores and cut back on staff, while still offering the traditional books, as not everyone has the luxury of owning smartphones or tablets, and many books have not yet been converted to a digital format. They should at the same time continue expanding their mobile capabilities through innovations like the smartphone applications, and allow consumers to take advantage of the same abilities that have attracted consumers to begin the shift into a much more technological era.

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