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Where have all the bookstores gone? The move to e-books and the changing book distribution model

Do you still shop in a bookstore?  Or do you buy your books online at sites like Amazon.com? Or have you ditched print books altogether and now read "e-books" on a reader like an iPad or a Kindle?

As E-Books Gain, Barnes and Noble Tries to Stay Ahead - NYTimes.com.jpgThe New York Times is out today with a piece about the changes at Barnes & Noble and also about changing consumer trends in general that is worth a read.  Interesting stats on the changes in buying habits:

In the first five months of 2009, e-books made up 2.9 percent of trade book sales. In the same period in 2010, sales of e-books, which generally cost less than hardcover books, grew to 8.5 percent, according to the Association of American Publishers, spurred by sales of the Amazon Kindle and the new Apple iPad.

As an author, but also as simply a lover of reading and of books, I do wonder about where we re going. If I look at my own behavior, we have two large bookstores here in Keene, NH. One is a Borders branch and the other is a local Toadstool Bookshop. Both are great places to browse books... Borders has a coffee shop/cafe area and WiFi. Here's the thing, though:

I almost NEVER go there!

Part of it is that I don't find I have time in my daily life to just go and browse through books. Maybe I should make that time... but I don't... and I don't see it happening soon. The other reality is that as a cheap... er.. "frugal" Yankee, I just don't want to pay the higher prices of a bookstore when I can get the exact same book for less online, particularly once you get sucked into Amazon Prime and can get a book delivered so fast.

I've also bought more e-books this year than ever before, largely because I now own an iPad. I had purchased a few before for my iPhone or desktop, but the reading form factor wasn't that great. The iPad is great for reading... and again there's a price factor. I bought a bunch of O'Reilly books I'd wanted not too long ago when the ebook versions were only $5.

An interesting aspect of e-books (or are they "ebooks" or "eBooks"?) is the ease of receiving updates. Just today I received an email from O'Reilly that there is an updated version of one of the books I bought that has a number of corrections and fixes. Pretty much impossible to do with a printed book, particularly because they wouldn't know I had bought it. (More anonymity with print books... a subject for another blog post.)

Now, there are a host of reasons why I personally still like print books... "tree-ware"... I'm not yet cool with the idea of "cuddling up in bed" at the end of the night with my e-reader. And I just like the feel of a book in my hands. But I can see the day coming...

How about you? Do you go to bookstores anymore? Do you still buy books? Or have you shifted to e-books?

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