Friday, October 23, 2009

The Price Wars

I'm sure you've heard about the Battle of the Books that is going on between several mass market retailers. (And if you haven't, you can read about it in the Wall Street Journal here.) Most of my favorite bloggers have expressed their concerns on the situation, and these are the two things worry me most:

1. People are going to expect hardcover books to always be $10.
But they aren't. Walmart.com, Amazon.com, Target, Sears and everyone else jumping on the bandwagon are only discounting the top 10 or so books. As a potentially new author, my book would still be priced at $20, which could deter buyers.

2. Independent book stores cannot meet these prices.
This really bothers me because I am a big supporter of local business, and I would hate to see small business disappear. However, we as a group of consumers can stop this by not shopping at mass market retailers and trying to purchase things from local retailers when we can.

However, on the bright side...
1. I remember when gas stations were having a price war in the late 90's and gas dropped below a dollar. I would drive a block and then fill-up again because sadly, I knew it would end soon and the prices would shoot right back up. And they did. There is only so long a retailer can sell things at a loss.

2. Since books are currently on sale, perhaps the lower prices will get people buying and reading and they will remember how nice it is to curl up on the couch with a good book. More people reading is always a good thing for the publishing industry.

So in closing, I'm not going to panic just yet. I'm going to wait and see how this all plays out. One thing I am sure of is that printed books will never go away completely.

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