Economics lesson of the day

Independent Bookstores Stage a Comeback. While pressure from Amazon forced Borders out of business in 2011, indie bookstores staged an unexpected comeback. Between 2009 and 2015, the American Bookseller Association reported a 35% growth in the number of independent booksellers, from 1,651 stores to 2,227.

Borders was a direct competitor to the Indie bookstore. Amazon is a substitute for.

The removal of some 700 (approx, Borders plus other brands) direct competitors has a different effect than the continued expansion of a substitute.

Gee, ya think?

Ford and GM sell cars in Austin TX (only they two). Austin builds a metro. GM remained bankrupt. Does Ford sell more or fewer cars in Austin TX?

Agreed, could go either way but we’d not be surprised if more, would we?

14 comments on “Economics lesson of the day

  1. What they don’t report is how many opened shops.

    At trade fairs I see people looking to start out with selling books – online, at events etc.
    Friend of mine specialises in particular type of books and spends his weekends going to events all over the EU with his van, selling stuff that can be found on amazon to people who will never buy from amazon.

    There are more booksellers in the UK too last I looked. Not all with a bricks and mortar store.

  2. Martin, yes, and even when they have a physical shop it’s often just somewhere to keep the stock, with the sales happening online, through fairs or even by post (some specialist book dealers still send out quarterly lists).

  3. The other factor is, when something like Borders shuts down, there are suddenly a lot of people without a job who only know about one business, more than the capacity of the sector to re-employ them.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the 576 new booksellers were previously running Borders branches.

    It’ll be interesting to see how many survive once their redundancy cheques run out.

  4. I was under the impression that Borders went under because the banks would not fund it, as they had previously, because of the financial crisis.

    Less panic and Borders would have survived. Nowt to do with Amazon?

  5. @WindyPants, November 29, 2017 at 7:37 pm
    “I wouldn’t buy an Austin Metro!”

    Not even a 6R4?

    Metro Turbo was good to; actually all later ones with K series engine are OK

  6. Pcar said:
    “Metro Turbo was good to; actually all later ones with K series engine are OK”

    I had a K-series Metro. Bought it new when my Spitfire blew up, because they gave me a huge discount and pretended it was a deposit on the finance forms, so I could drive away a car without any money (which was not so easy in the 90s).

    Three weeks old and the gearbox failed going round Piccadilly Circus. People raved about the K-series engine but it was a shite car.

  7. My first car was an MG Metro. Great for a while but in the upend the fact that the good bits were ex-Cooper stuff they had knocking around and the rest was built from spit and used tin foil did rather tell.

  8. Bookshops used to give variable customer service. You wanted to order a book some of them gave really bad customer service and timescale was measured in weeks or months.
    Then amazon came along – and could order a book from the US and have it delivered a week later! Then UK site started and could get delivery in a couple of days.

    Bookshops mostly put themselves out of business.

    First time I came across Borders was just before they shut – was a couple of hours travel from me to the closest one. And Waterstones were a lot more common.

  9. Bookshops mostly put themselves out of business.

    Try getting a political book in Waterstones which is written from the perspective of someone right of Diane Abbot. Quite difficult.

    I used to walk in and the first thing I’d see was a section called “Staff Picks”, all of them fucking awful. They could just have easily called it “If you read the Guardian and you live in London, you’ll love these”.

    If they were bakers they would try and politicise the bread they sell you. They just can’t stop themselves.

  10. Went to Waterstones to get a book. None of the staff looked the least bit interested in helping. Book out of stock and there response – come back another day and it might be here! No thanks, I’ll just order online.

  11. Rob,

    But to a large extent, that’s what sells.

    When people shift right and get responsibilities, they just want to be entertained.

    Also: right politics tends to be weaved into other forms. Righties don’t want polemics, but they want books and films that chime with their values. “There won’t be a shire, Pippin” is war on terror stuff.

  12. Online is fine for book buying if you already know what you want, the latest volume from a favourite author, say. But a real bookshop gives you the opportunity to see what you’re getting, and even more significantly spot something you might never otherwise have considered buying.

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