The book store chain Borders announced today that it will be going out of business in the next few months. It expects all stores to be closed by September, 2011.
So what does this have to do with photography? Well, I put a picture of my local Borders store at the top of today’s post- so this is photojournalism! Or more accurately, photo-editorialism, if that is even a word…
What I don’t like is that this is another example, in my opinion (there’s the editorial part!), of the Internet destroying another business. Maybe it’s Border’s own fault, though. Amazon.com came along and put all book stores on notice… what they do does not require a brick & mortar store. It requires a web site, warehouse, and delivery service. I guess this is a case of ‘couch potato’ beating out ‘instant gratification.’ It used to be that you could run to the store, look through some books, and be reading ten minutes later, at home, on a nice comfortable sofa. But that instant gratification lost out to being a couch potato. You browsed online, for a discount, you waited a couple of days, and Mr. UPS guy delivered your book and you never had to get up off of the sofa!
But instant gratification came back and won over again- now we have our electronic book readers… so now we’ve even cut Mr. UPS guy out of the equation. Now, for even less money, I can download the book and be reading in seconds on the same sofa. Best of both worlds, I guess.
Tell that to the 10,700 employees in 399 stores who will be losing their jobs in the next few months.
Borders could have fought back. Barnes & Noble did. You can order from Barnes & Noble online, you can download a book to their eReader, or you can go to their store and browse the books and magazines while sipping your favorite hot beverage.
But wait- you CAN do all that at Borders web site! They have their own eReader, and you can order books online or go to their store. What gives here? I haven’t checked their prices, but I can’t imagine that they are drastically different from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
It comes down to the public deciding that their local brick and mortar store is just a dinosaur. If it doesn’t come to us via the Internet, we don’t have time for it.
Heck, I’ve been a photographer since I was a kid- and seriously since 1986. In 1986 I went to Woodbridge Center Mall and bought a pro-level camera at a local camera store. It was a mom & pop shop (the name escapes me, unfortunately) and a very knowledgeable salesman walked me through how the camera worked and even tested it out in front of me. A few years ago, that all disappeared. When was the last time you saw a well stocked, local, camera store. Best Buy doesn’t count, by the way.
To buy camera equipment now, I pretty much go to B&H Photo or Adorama Photo online. Yes, they have incredible stores in NY city- but the majority of their worldwide sales occur online.
Golf- when I got started in 2007/2008, there was a local golf store 3 miles from my house. It went out of business shortly thereafter. Everyone was buying online or from huge stores like Sports Authority.
What happened to supporting your local mom and pop shop? Yeah, the price was a few dollars more, but not so much to break the bank. And you were giving your neighbor a job. Oh well, guess he really didn’t matter.
After all, the rest of us still had our jobs.
Now I’m not suggesting that Borders is a mom and pop shop. Far from it, they were a pretty large company. But of the big three book sellers, they were third. So now Amazon and Barnes & Noble are left to fight it out. When only one is left, someone will complain that ‘there’s no competition’ and ‘they have a monopoly.’ Mark my words.
Sometimes it feels like all that will be left are stores that deliver things to us that can’t be delivered over the Internet… hair salons, food stores, gas stations, and, and, …. I think that’s about it. Oh yeah, maybe doctors.
Everything else will be delivered via the Internet, UPS, or FedEx.
Hope your job survives…