Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Capitalism is the worst economic system, except for all the others

Barnes & Noble is not long for this world:

Barnes and Noble has not had an easy go of it. The brick-and-mortar stalwart has seen its revenues and profits steeply decline as we've entered the age of the e-book. In fact, profits haven't just shrunk; they've disappeared. During the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2013, the company suffered a net loss of $118.6 million, down significantly from the already poor showing it posted in 2012 when it lost $56.9 million in Q4. For the year, that put Barnes and Noble's losses at $154.8 million -- more than double what it lost in 2012. Revenues have dropped both at retail outlets and its Nook digital business by $105 million and $56 million, respectively year-over-year. For its e-reader and ebook arm, that represents a 34 percent drop from Q4 2012. The bad news there is that device sales have declined dramatically and, while content sales were up for the year, in the fourth quarter they fell by 8.9 percent. Barnes and Noble attributes the year-over-year fall in sales to be attributed to the lack of blockbuster titles. In Q4 2012 revenues were boosted by juggernauts like Fifty Shades of Grey and The Hunger Games.
I've resisted the ebook revolution so far. I don't even own a Nook or a Kindle. But eventually I too must bow to the inevitable. Big box bookstores are going the way of the dodo. There will always be mom and pop used bookstore operations out there, but the publishing industry has failed to adapt to the new market reality. Perhaps they can't adapt. On the one hand, the decline and fall of the mainstream gatekeepers makes it easier for scrubs like me to get our literary meanderings floating around out there in the electronic ether. But on the other, brick and mortar bookstores have much sentimental appeal to me. When I had my first summer job, it wasn't uncommon for me to spend most of my paychecks entirely on books. Wandering the stacks for a few hours is exactly my idea of a good time. All of the girls I've ever dated long term all had a similar love of books.

The death of Borders saddened me. There used to be one within a fifteen minute drive of home. Now it's a half hour drive to the nearest B&N. Their selection leaves something to be desired. I'll drop in if I'm in the area, but I haven't devoted an afternoon to browsing there in several years. When I do buy something now it's usually a history book or one of the classics. I don't purchase much SF or Fantasy anymore, except for Warhammer novels. Along with many others, I too have noticed the equalitarian drift of much contemporary SF/F work. If I wanted to be henpecked about how terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad racism, sexism, colonialism, and homophobia are, I'd listen to the scalzied manboobs on NPR or MSNBC.

That's my goal as a writer, to bring back a sense of heroism, adventure, and masculinity to storytelling. Men don't read as much as they used to so there's a great untapped market out there just waiting for an ambitious and talented person like myself to take advantage of it. I'm thinking about a novel about a big dumb viking who smashes heads for justice.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad that you also see the need for good stories-and want to write them! I also happen to like the same gneres that you do (though truth be told, I've read little fantasy or sci-fi; mainly classics). I like writting about heroism and adventure-but sometimes I've wondered if I could "make it" when almost every bestseller's got something wrong with it.
    I do have one of my stories-in-the works on a blog, so you can check it out IF YOU WANT TO.