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The fate of bookstores today

posted 18 Feb 2011, 16:39 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 18 Feb 2011, 16:41 ]
A New York City bookstore focuses on new technology and old fashioned customer service to remain relevant as traditional booksellers face a growing threat from digital books.
USA-BOOKSELLERS - Listen closely and you'll hear the sounds every bookseller yearns to hear: pages turning, a knowledgeable staff, and finally, the sound of a pen signing a sales slip.

McNally Jackson Books, an independent bookseller in New York City, reports sales this year are up 10% so far over 2010, no easy feat in today's day and age of internet sales and rapid fire e-book growth.

Owner Sarah McNally rolled out the Espresso Book Machine in January, a combative strategy to get books,

not already on the shelves, in the hands of customers. It prints entire paperbacks, bound cover and all.


"The challenge for an independent bookseller is always to remain relevant to their community to figure out every way in which they can be relevant to their community. ways in which I'm doing it, I've made myself with this print on demand machine which is an extraordinary machine. it can print up a book in the same amount of time that my cafe can make you a cappuccino essentially."

Not every bookseller has had McNally Jackson's success. Borders filed for bankruptcy protection last week with plans to close about one-third of its stores.

Amazon announced it now sells more Kindle e-books than traditional paper books. And there are growing

threats from Barnes & Noble's Nook and the iPad, among others.

Peter Wahlstrom, Associate Director, Morningstar:


"There are individuals that will gravitate to the digital side of the business those that teeter and play on both ends, the digital and the print and then there are those that still like the print so I don't view that today's business in the physical bookstore business is dead by any stretch but it is certainly facing a period of decline over the longer term."

Sarah McNally sells Google e-books on her website, but her recipe for success has been good recommendations, strong cappuccinos - and a dash of innovation.

Jill Bennett, Reuters