Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The giant bookstore "Borders" shuts down

With store in the UAE or Oman, Borders shutting down by the end of september will have its own effect in the Arab world.
For reasons of profitability and return on investment, the US giant bookstore that had in stock more than thousands of books in each of its 400 stores, has to close down. The shift of clients behavior towards reading is a silent revolution, but predictability is another unknown factor: will the small neighbourhood bookstore resurface? will the internet take over any buying of books? will reading on electronic devises wipe out the paper format forever?
Fnac (another giant in France) is rethinking its strategy to keep some of its market shares. They plan to concentrate their efforts on the customer rather than the product, which could make the event of visiting the store an experience by itself.
Will Amazon be our only source of books?
In the Arab world, before contemplating a bookstore's financial results, we still have to work on the books productions and accessibility: censorship and repression on ideas and thoughts are slowly cracking up through different countries, but it has barely gone beyond twitter and facebook. Reading or writing books require a deeper and longer thought process than the 140 symbols message.


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

good to see you're blogging again Sarah, just thinking of you this morning... as to your post: it is nice to think this might mean small neighborhood bookstores resurfacing, but in the Arab world, while you bring up "censorship and repression on ideas and thoughts," I think it might have more to do with just a general lack on interest in reading. It does seem reading is the last thing students here are interested in doing. Also just look at Avenues Mall - while there are a handful of Starbucks (and they are building more as well as the largest in Kuwait) and even more other coffee shops, there are no major bookstores in the whole entire mall (there is just this little shop selling magazines, newspapers, and children's books - hardly what I would call a "bookstore"). I can not think of any mall in the US without a major bookstore (as well as usually a few little shops selling magazines, children's books, etc.). Even tiny malls (compared to the ones in Kuwait) in the US will usually have a major bookstore.

sarah said...

Yeah blogging has been slow lately...
It is hard to compare the book market in the US and in the Arab world.
Books require freedom of expression and capacity to share. the Arabs have a "lack of interest in reading" maybe; but you can't just justify it all with a lack of interest. There has to be an effort in all directions to promote the matter.
In Kuwait, there is a serious lack of books, no promotion for any new books, plus a curriculum in schools that is repressive and closed minded. There you have a perfect recipe for lack of interest.
Reading is an acquired taste that is instilled in a younger age. But once you are hooked, it become a whole new world.
Starbucks was becoming on my list of places to avoid. But maybe we should tell them to start their own publishing house and promote books the way they promote coffee beans and then there might a slight shift in the reading process... (one word at a time, one line at a time, one page at a time...)
Nice to hear from you William. Hope your summer is not too hot in Kuwait