Bookstores Turn Into Gift Shops

Fancy book covers? Is this the killer strike that traditional publishers have created to pump life back into the argument of printed book sales? The NYTimes is reporting that yes, publishers have come up with the master stroke of fancy book covers.

For publishers, the strategy has a clear payoff: to increase the value of print books and build a healthy, diverse marketplace that includes brick-and-mortar bookstores and is not dominated by Amazon and e-books.

This is like when an artist puts out a compilation album or box set. Sure, fans are going to buy it, but that’s about it. It’s also going to cost a LOT more, and stop regular people from buying the book because of the price. Did I mention how expensive it is to have these things printed? The publishers are only going to do it for a select few best sellers. There is too much risk involved with authors that aren’t proven beyond a doubt.

“These extra fancy covers, if tastefully done, cause customers to notice the book, pick it up and look it over,” Paul Ingram, a book buyer at the Prairie Lights bookstore in Iowa City, Iowa, said in an e-mail.

Assuming anyone will actually shop at bookstores anymore and especially in the future.

“If we believe that convenience reading is moving at light speed over to e,” Mr. Schnittman said, using the industry shorthand for e-books, “then we need to think about what the physical qualities of a book might be that makes someone stop and say, ‘well there’s convenience reading, and then there’s book owning and reading.’ We realized what we wanted to create was a value package that would last.”

What this effectively does is turn bookstores and publishers into gift shop owners. Who knows? Maybe it’ll work. Maybe you’ll stop by the book gift shop in the mall kiosk and pick up a copy of Jay-Z’s newest book for Christmas for your brother.

I have a better idea thought. Why not just change your business model and start paying authors a decent commission on their books? And why not start embracing digital books as the future.

Oh, that would mean you’d have to admit you’re wrong and your industry is failing. Never gonna happen.