What the big chain bookstores did to the mom & pop shops, Amazon.com is doing to the big chain bookstores. At least Borders, which may be in its death throes. (Barnes & Noble is hanging in there.) Border’s woes are not just the internet. The Washington Post published a fascinating article about Borders in the context of the larger book business: Borders struggles amid rapid changes in book sales.
We have discussed the pro’s and con’s of Walmart, which gives customers good prices and thus a higher standard of living, at the expense of wiping out small local businesses. I wonder, though, if even the big corporate department stores are at risk from the internet. My daughter (a grown-up) buys virtually everything online–shoes, clothes, vitamins. Will we even need hard-copy shops, except to buy food and maybe staples from Wal-Mart, which will surely survive?Would this be yet another phase of gigantism, as the big stores themselves get outdone by even bigger nation-wide virtual stores?
In the early days of the internet, it was thought that small, even home-based businesses would flourish, since the new medium would allow them to compete on an even playing field with the big corporations. Maybe that is so. The online companies that get my daughter’s business are in some cases small ventures run by stay-at-home moms. Or is internet commerce itself getting taken over by the big players? Might the human impulse to “go shopping” mean that there will always be bricks and mortar shops, including bookstores?