A few years ago, I appeared in a lighthearted debate at Melbourne University in which I had to prosecute the case that the bookstore was dead. Our team lost the vote on a show of hands, and the bookloving audience was pretty convinced that bookshops would be around for some time. Now, we have Federal Government Ministers predicting their demise within 5 years:

Booksellers’ jaws dropped today upon hearing that federal Minister for Small Business Nick Sherry had predicted that online shopping would wipe out general bookstores within five years.

The minister said this morning he expected that only specialist players in capital cities would survive.

For the record, I suspect that Nick Sherry is both right and wrong. There’s obviously a seachange happening in book retailing at the moment, and booksellers are going to have to reinvent themselves or they will die. BUt I think the 5 year time span is a bit pessimistic. Bookshops will probably continue to be profitable for some time afterwards – they’ll just be on a long slow decline, and of decreasing importance and influence. Have a look at CD stores for a pretty good analogy.

Just read the comments in the article to see what people are thinking…


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