Paperback or plasticback?


It’s a period that’s been looming ever closer since the wistful (and let’s be honest , not that greatly missed) rolling news days and now it’s finally here. Presentations are in a weeks time – ARRGGGHH – and I need to buck up my ideas and come up with a 10 minute visual and verbal display of what I plan to achieve over the next couple of months and how I plan on doing it.

Radio or TV?

So far it’s been pretty easy, mostly because I haven’t done anything. I decided pretty quickly what I wanted to do my project on and Chazza B liked it. SHOCKER. Normally the hardest thing for me, being incredibly indecisive, is choosing what to do (or buy, or eat, or wear). However I have um’ed and arr’ed and see sawed my way over the last few weeks between whether to do my final project as a TV or Radio documentary. Eventually I came to the decision (with the help of Tim Hubbard) to go back to my original plan and do radio.

Now comes the research stages. I’ve taken drastic measures and set my home page to The Bookseller (not even kidding) and have begun tweeting and emailing people that I hope to interview. It’s already become clear that getting people to talk to me isn’t going to be easy. Slightly worrying…

Oh yeah, haven’t actually mentioned what I’m doing it on yet. The Decline in Bookstores. Three cheers for cultural creativity!

Something I have noticed since reading up the background on my chosen topic is that sales in books aren’t down – people are reading more than ever. This shouldn’t be confused with the fact that independent book stores are closing down; the market is thriving, but it has changed. People are consuming commodities in different ways – mammoth retailers HMV and GAME have suffered similarly because of it. The internet/technology/electronic devices are changing the way we buy.

I’m traditional.

I love reading books. I love the smell, I love looking at the spine and seeing how far you’ve got into the story, I love reading them in the bath, I love turning the pages in fast paced thrillers knowing there’s going to be something explosive on the other side, I love borrowing them off people and lending them. I love the simplicity. I love that I don’t have to switch it on to use it.

However I can see why people like Kindles. Personally they’re not for me – but they’re a force to be reckoned with and something which cannot be ignored.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks at a news conference in front of a graphic showing the rise in sales of Kindle books (Picture: Reuters)

An estimated one in 40 UK adults received a Kindle for Christmas, with John Lewis saying that at one point they were selling a Kindle every 30 seconds.

Brigid Macleod, sales and marketing director at Granta Books, said the Publishing Association’s Statistics Yearbook figures confirm that ‘a sharp decline in sales of physical fiction titles has been almost entirely accounted for by sales of ebooks.’ *

But it’s not just the Kindle.

Online retailers like Amazon and supermarket giants Tesco and ASDA are the main contributers to the downfall of bookstores, and not just your independent ones. Waterstones have closed down branches in the UK and discontinued their ongoing 3 for 2 offer on popular titles. ASDA was famously slammed in 2007 when they released Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for under £9; almost half the R.R.P. I know this because I’d just started working there.

Bookstores cannot compete.

 So what does the future hold? Are specialist shops going to continue their downward spiral as more people switch to mp3s and ebooks and buy online? What can book shop owners do in light of the recent Kindle fever?

Well folks, this is what I’ll be asking in my doco . I’ll be taking you with me on my journey of enlightenment, through the passages of time and the delights of public transport and technicalities of JVC cameras and interviewing techniques.

At least I’ve got one thing sorted; my first music clip for my documentary. The Beatles seem ubiquitous in my life at the moment.

Of course it’s not just the UK that’s suffering. Bookstores are in decline in the US too. Check out this overtly American news package for Fox TV. Seriously.. you watch things like this and realise how completely different the Americans are from the Brits. You don’t want to miss the 10 second interview with 13 year old brace wearing Keeaarstan Campbell, trust me.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s