In a recent article by the New York Times entitled “The Bookstores Last Stand,” we noted that the e-book is changing the way bookstores are serving their customers. The functionality of the bookstore and its viability as a retail store rests on future opportunities to sell electronic media not book sales. Indeed, the large super bookstores of the past are rapidly changing their approach to include electronic media sales and reduce the amount of books on display.
Barns and Noble is attempting to change its course away from books and into e-readers. It is focusing on the Nook to create an electronic supermarket for books while downsizing the number of printed books. In the next two years, Barns and Noble expects to reduce its space for Books, DVD’s and Media to make way for electronic research.
As the bookstores struggle with the e-book technology and the use of space, libraries need to identify ways to manage their future better. We witnessed the e-book and its newly found interest first hand during a library planning tour at a Public Library last December. The reference department was inundated with questions from patrons who were buying the kindle as a Christmas present. People were concerned with the viability of the e-reader and the ability to borrow books from the library. They didn’t want to give a family or friend something that didn’t work. Would they be able to use it as a reading tool?
We see e-book readers as a great opportunity to promote e-lending and training programs. We see the need to change the functionality of library space to support the e-reader.
Librarians need to be cognizant that electronic media generated a lot of service opportunities in 2011. The landscape for reading has changed forever. Now its time to develop libraries that reflect the times.
For example, Amazon is transforming the publishing world and the way books are sold. Last Christmas 2011, Kindle sales went up 177% from the previous year. Amazon’s Kindle lending library program, launched on November 2, 2011, now contains over 75,000 titles. The company reported that customers borrowed 295,000 titles in December; many of whom were at the Public Library downloading content for free.
From a library space planning perspective, the bookstores demise is an opportunity for libraries to become knowledge centers and not just book repositories. The book will endure in the library, but soon the e-book will have its place too.
Libraries will have new opportunities to create space; new for space dedicated to learning, training and electronic research, new tools to share with your community.