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Can Independent Bookstores Compete in the Ebook Market?


While giant corporations like Amazon, Google, Sony, Barnes & Noble and Chapters/Indigo have managed to pull together comprehensive bookstores with varying degrees of success, the same task currently is beyond the ability and budget of the small independent bookstore.

When Google offered independents a chance to sell ebooks through Google Books, many independent bookstores jumped on the bandwagon either through IndieBound or on their own, even though the results were less than optimal.

Now that Google has announced that it’s cutting its reseller program on January 31, 2013, the ability of independent booksellers to offer their customers access to digital version of books is in doubt.

The ABA sent out a letter to its members after the Google decision was announced that anticipated an alternate solution for independent bookstores:

To say the least, we are very disappointed in Google’s decision, but, we have every confidence that, long before Google’s reseller program is discontinued, ABA will be able to offer IndieCommerce users a new alternative e-book product, or choice of products, that will not only replace Google eBooks as it currently works on IndieCommerce sites but that will be in many ways a better product.

What will appear on the horizon for ebooks and independent booksellers is still unclear. It might be another collaboration on a third party like Kobo or Sony, or something custom-built on the Indie Commerce program, but what it needs to be is as seamless and as simple as Amazon’s interface, or small bookstores will continue to suffer in the age of digitization.

What Is the Future of the Independent Bookstore? from The Graduate Center, CUNY on

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