Twelve years ago Books-A-Million opened in my town. We already had a B. Dalton in the mall, but the superstore meant more magazine and book selections, as well as coffee, snacks, and a place to sit and read. Wi-fi came later. For a town that still considers tobacco a source of pride, a proper book store offered some much needed intellectual balance. Before they opened, the nearest comparable book store was 45 minutes away.
Last week the local BAM announced it’s closing this Saturday. Despite the misleading banner in the picture, this is actually one of four stores across North Carolina to shutter its doors. A glance at the company’s 2011 Annual Report reveals two familiar trends: significant decreases in retail sales and increases in electronic commerce sales (driven by Nook e-readers and e-book sales) compared to 2010’s numbers. Second quarter 2012 results continued the slide with a 26-week net sales decrease of 11.2% from 2011. But entertainment and kid’s titles continue to perform well. I think the depressed economy has forced parents to retask their shrinking entertainment and gift budgets. To save money, many are sharing their childhood love of reading with their children. At least that’s my theory and hope.
Regardless of the cause behind growing e-book sales, it’s encouraging news for new writers and others who haven’t cracked the traditional publishing market yet.