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Get ready for the bookstore massacre! Have you been noticing your local bookstores closing? In a few years, hard copy ‘books’ will be the thing of the past. I’m sad to see bookstores disappearing. I guess the digital world is indeed taking over! Check out this article I found:

Get Read for the Bookstore Massacre
By Brett Arends

BOSTON (MarketWatch) — Are we about to see bookstores closing across the country? I suspect so.

Look at the depressing proxy battle for what remains of Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS 15.36, +0.33, +2.20%) , the world’s largest chain of bookstores. You could hardly dominate an industry more than B&N has dominated the landscape of traditional bookstores. Yet its fortunes have fallen so far that management has hoisted the white flag and put it up for sale.

Barnes & Noble stock, which was flying high above $45 five years ago, has plummeted below $15. Wall Street’s view of its prospects is so dim that not even the news of a bid battle has set it alight. The only bright spot: The company’s e-book sales, which rocketed 51% last quarter.

(A vignette of a company in decline: Barnes & Noble’s annual filing shows that management and staff owns 5.5 million stock options, granted to them in previous years to give them an incentive to work harder and smarter. The options have an average exercise price of $20.19 — meaning most of them, if not all, are now seemingly worthless.)

digits: It’s the end of bookstores as we know them
MarketWatch Columnist Brett Arends tells the Digits show why bookstores may soon go the way of music retail stores, spurred by price cuts on e-book readers and sales of digital books.

As for the other giant of traditional bookstores: Borders Group Inc. (BGP 1.11, 0.00, 0.00%) stock has plummeted by as much as 95% from its peak. Indeed, Borders stock, at around $1.20, is now a fraction of the cost of a book.

Meanwhile, e-books have now reached that tedious cliché, the tipping point. Amazon.com Inc.’s latest Kindle e-book reader has sold out — weeks before it even started shipping. The new device is smaller, cheaper, and has a better screen.

Amazon (AMZN 124.86, +1.07, +0.86%) says it’s now selling more e-books than paper-based books — about 43 % more in the last quarter, including about 80% more in the final month.

It doesn’t end there.

Expect prices for e-book readers to start collapsing. How can Barnes & Noble still charge $149 for its Nook, or Borders $149 for the Kobo reader, when Amazon’s newer, better product sells for $139?

And, of course, it’s not just about e-book readers. People are also downloading electronic books onto their Apple (AAPL 243.13, +0.63, +0.26%) iPads, laptops, tablet computers, and cell phones. But e book readers are the key for serious readers. Their screens, unlike those on regular devices, emit no light into your eyes. So they are much better suited for reading.

While prices collapse, screens are getting better. The latest Kindles have the newest, improved version of “eInk” screens. (I’ve used one of these screens, and it’s a noticeable improvement.)

We already know how this story is going to end. We saw it with the cell phone and with the iPod. The devices and services get better and better until suddenly they go mainstream.

Three years ago, an e-book reader cost $400, offered a limited choice of books, and had a dark gray screen that wasn’t so easy on the eyes. Today they’re just over $100, offer almost unlimited choices of books, and the screens are excellent. And, naturally, you can download books over the air.

When these things happen, they happen quickly.

When I was growing up, record stores were a place you could hang out. In a really great store — one of those big city leviathans spread over several stories — you could spend the best part of a day flipping through the racks looking for hard-to-find records, obscure titles, things you’d never even heard of.

Teenagers today probably have no idea what I’m talking about. Who goes to a record store? Why don’t you just download your music onto your iPod?

As recently as 2001 there were music stores everywhere. As many as 80,000 people worked in them, according to the Labor Department. And that was a number that had been steady for years.

In 2002 the iPod took off. Today the number working in music stores is 20,000 — a 75% collapse.

As for the book industry: About 125,000 people still work in book stores and news dealers, according to Labor. How many of them will still have jobs in two years? Another 75,000 work in book publishing. When writers self-publish in electronic format, how many publishers will still be left?

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