|Borders Being Carried Out by Rapidly Melting B&N Snowmen|
What I find interesting is O'Brien's reaction to their probable disappearance. He recalls how callously the "disruptors" moved in during the 1980s to wipe out thousands of local bookstores - and how consumers everywhere flocked to the big box stores, local stores be damned. Now, he says it is the "disruptors" that are being disrupted and he really does not much care.
I've written here before about the irony of the situation in which the Big-2 bookstore chains now find themselves, considering how ruthlessly they behaved in city after city as they carved up the national market for themselves at the expense of the bookstores that preceded them. That's, perhaps, the main reason that, like O'Brien, I am not particularly upset to see the chains suffer this humiliation. It's one of those "live by the sword, die by the sword" things, after all. What I'm wishing for is a return to the marketplace of independents willing to carve out a new niche for themselves. How likely that scenario is, I'm afraid to guess.
We consumers are a greedy lot. We want more stuff and we don't want to pay a dime more for our stuff than we have to pay, meaning that online bookstores are going to dominate the industry very soon (some would say they already do). If that means that used-book stores, independent bookstores and libraries thrive again - or at least get a decent shot at thriving - then this might not be such a bad thing.
And, as O'Brien goes on to say, no one will much care when the Amazon.com business model gets routed by the next big thing. It's just a matter of time.