Short Takes: Bookstore Numbers Drop

02/18/2011
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TOKYO (majirox news) Borders Books declared bankruptcy in the United States earlier this week, a victim of large mail order chains like Amazon and digital readers. This should come as no surprise to Japanese bookstores. In the last 10 years, according to R-Media Corporation, the number of bookstores in Japan has dropped from 21,654 to 15,314, a decrease of around 30 percent.

However, lest one thinks the situation is bad in Japan, consider what it’s like in the U.S. In 1993, the Association of Independent Bookstores had 4,300 members. By 2010, there were only 1,400 stores still active.

“The Borders case is a light jolt compared to the tectonic shifts to come,” says publishing consultant Cindy Mullins of 4M Associates. “We’re now raising the next generation of readers who will never know a life of information that wasn’t online, all the time, and on demand. The stores that innovate and cater to this mindset, making product offerings seamless and intuitive, still have a chance to thrive. But vigilance is key.”

Even though book stores are decreasing, book sales in Japan and the U.S. are continuing to grow. Fewer and fewer stores are selling more books, although while business is getting harder for most stores, for a few megastores it’s never been better.

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