The SF Signal Podcast (Episode 030): Cat Valente, Chris Roberson, Allison Baker & Alan Beatts on What the Borders Bankruptcy Means for Brick and Mortar Bookstores

Episode 30 of the SF Signal Podcast features the 2nd of our new, monthly mega-panels. We’ve invited some very special guests to weigh in on the state of the brick and mortar bookstores in the wake of the Borders bankruptcy and their scheduled closings of 200 stores nationwide.

Additionally, we ask:

  • Is the emerging ebook market the final death toll to the local bookstore?
  • As more people adopt ereaders, what can booksellers do to encourage traffic into book stores to purchase physical copies?

Our virtual convention panel includes:

Tell us what you think – leave us a voicemail — it’s free!

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8 thoughts on “The SF Signal Podcast (Episode 030): Cat Valente, Chris Roberson, Allison Baker & Alan Beatts on What the Borders Bankruptcy Means for Brick and Mortar Bookstores”

  1. The publishing industry sounds like it is due a well earned collapse…and I dont see how the consignment model can, or should, survive in the future, especially since ebooks dont work in that model. I can definitely see dead tree editions becoming niche artifacts of the privileged or of the determined.

    But the collapse of the dead tree world might actually help the publishers, large or small, general or niche, that can create and maintain a trusted presence as a gatekeeper, and authors that can build a rep as a mark of quality, their “brand” to use silly marketing language. Especially with the idea of amazon (and the others) allowing anybody with a dozen words strung together to set up a table in the marketplace…

    Which brings to mind a question, would a publisher (or a “branded” author) in a true “ebook world” really need amazon (or B&N, or Borders, or any other middleman)?

     

    TW

    ps- Any author/publisher that doenst have their backlist out on the web in the coming ebook world deserves to starve… ;)

  2. A fantastic podcast. Especially glad to see Alan Beatts on the show and hope you find many excuses to have him back. He is always articulate, relevant, and interesting. 

  3. Excellent discussion, Patrick. Big thanks to all of the participants.

    Also, I really like the idea of splitting the podcast into two separate programs.

    Mike

     

  4. Mike – glad to hear it! I’m hoping the split will make the show more accessible :)

    Lou – thanks! Had a blast with this one.  DeNardo has wanted Alan on the show since we started and this seemed the perfect forum.  He was awesome, as were all the panelists.  Really glad you enjoyed this :)

    TW – I don’t think anyone knows for sure what the publishing landscape will look like when the dust settles.  We still have an ebook format war coming – I am pretty sure of that.  People don’t like having to purchase multiple versions of the same thing for different devices – they want to be able to port it to whatever they’re carrying with them at the time be it laptop, Kindle, Book or whatever.  When they can’t, piracy happens.

    The word ‘gatekeeper’ keeps getting thrown around and that worries me.  We are seeing a lot of information diversity thanks in no small part to the ability for anyone to produce content.  I don’t think every book written should be published – it’s called a ‘slush pile’ for a reason – but nor do I think there should be a gatekeeper, not in the same way we’ve seen it in the past.  The whole industry needs to evolve and keep pace with technology and information dissemination.  If it doesn’t, it’ll be left behind…

    ~P
    @atfmb

  5. How about “assurer of quality” instead of “gatekeeper” then?  They need to become something that gives the general public confidence that what the publisher is putting its seal on is of a certain quality level.

    Sorta like walking down the beer aisle in the mega-market. If you see “Sam Adams” you know about what you are getting.  Same with “Budweiser” or “Guiness”. If you see “Bob’s Homebrew” you are in the dark, unless you know Bob.

  6. I have to disagree with Chris and Allison a little bit, I’m pretty fond of my local independent bookstore, Uncle Hugo’s. :)

     

    Seriously, though, this was an informative and well-formed podcast with a lot of food for thought.

     

    I understand that the book market is going to collapse, but I fear that it will be difficult that, even with people like me voting with my dollars, for bookstores and authors to survive in anything like their present form.  

    I envision a time when very few authors actually write as a full time gig, because it just doesn’t pay to do so–but I think the future of publishing is very much in flux.

    Maybe we can all help change it, in a positive way. Maybe.

  7. A really good podcast. A bit of a downer, but I wasn’t near any sharp objects.

    I’m in a relatively rural area and my main sources of books are the local library and used-bookstores. The closest independent bookstore is terribly small and doubles as a tannery–yeah, a tannery. The nearest chain store is nearly an hour’s drive away, and with gas prices being what they are, that’s not always so viable for the poor folks.

    Speaking of poor folks, the point that we are threatened with an electronic age that demands one more device in the home for our entertainment is frightening. People already go into hock with their flatscreens, Blurays, iPods, and cell phones, throw in a Kindle to boot and they’re living in cardboard boxes.

  8. If I had to go to a big box bookstore, I always preferred Borders to B&N, because of the compassion Borders offered to their New Orleans employees following Hurricane Katrina — I heard that firsthand from a friend of mine who worked there.  Also, because a couple of “meetups” I’m member of got better reception utilizing Borders’s internal cafe than B&N’s.  I was an early adopter of Borders Rewards, I had one of the all-red cards.  All of the Borders within easy reach of me are going away.  I’m going to miss them. T_T

    Along the line of authors e-publishing themselves, agree that it’s not easy; determination is key.  But if one wants to be in charge of their own destinies, that’s what it takes. 

    Hugo Winner CJ Cherryh has formed a cooperative with longtime associates Jane Fancher and Lynn Abbey, closed-circle.net, which they built, coded, and administer for themselves, primarily for their back catalogs, but there’s some new material as well.  And all of it DRM-free!  Authors who want to try this themselves should follow CJ’s blog “Wave Without A Shore” to understand the trevails involved and learn some of the potential pitfalls — but also of the satisfaction that can come!

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