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Brick and mortar stores vs. eBooks: Where will your book wind up?

Chains like Books-A-Million are downsizing in the Mobile, AL market while Barnes and Noble pulls out completely
Chains like Books-A-Million are downsizing in the Mobile, AL market while Barnes and Noble pulls out completely
Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Writing a book, short story, or how-to guide you'd like to see in print in the near future? To be successful, it's imperative to check your dreams and ambitions with the most current marketing trends. While brick and mortar giants struggle to compete with eBooks, not to mention online shopping for paper copies that ship straight to the buyer's door, how realistic is it to dream of displaying a newly published book on the shelf of a local bookstore? In Mobile, maybe not very.

It seems like eBooks are taking the world by firestorm, and they're showing no sign of mercy against some beloved local brick and mortars. Quick, one-click downloads of eBooks quietly began stirring worldwide market currents years ago, but the trend first impacted Mobile with immediate, in-your-face consequences back in the summer of 2010 when the first major chain withdrew from the area. Barnes & Noble closed its doors, packed up its books, and went home to the neighboring market of Fairhope, hoping to thrive in that community after loosing out in Mobile. And that was just the beginning.

More major changes trickled down to the Mobile area at the close of 2013. In November, The Books-A-Million in the Pinebrook Shopping Center underwent some major restructuring. Operating now under the banner of BAM, the store traded in its enormous stall for a smaller space in the same strip, downsizing its stock and scaling back its Kids-A-Million area considerably. On Christmas Eve and with only one week's notice to employees, the Bel Air Mall location shut down completely, leaving the downsized BAM's Pinebrook location the only major brick and mortar giant still standing.

What does this mean for the future of newly published books in Mobile? Aside from a few mom and pop store fronts, BAM is the only choice to achieve the dream of seeing your book physically on the shelf at a local level, but don't despair, and definitely don't underestimate the power of eBooks. Divergent, a current, best selling novel by Veronica Roth, is selling for about ten to twelve bucks in paperback, but the eBook version is hovering around only five dollars on Amazon. With such a wide price difference and the ease of one-click shopping gratifying readers everywhere, the online market takes the lead in the race for exposure, ease of reaching readers, and popularity, so embrace the 'can't beat 'em, join 'em mentality,' and investigate ways to include your work with online stores today.