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As a follow-up to the last post about Borders going bankrupt, I’d like to provide a link to another blog that puts what we’re seeing in the book retail industry in its proper context. As Harry MCracken, the author of that piece, notes, the possible death throes of Borders and Barnes & Noble are symptomatic of much larger trends in the retail industry. Changes in the industry — and by that I largely mean store closures — seem to be accelerating in recent years, but the process began at least eight years ago. Between changing consumer demands, the increasing availability and desirability of digital rather than physical media, and Internet retailers like Amazon, brick-and-mortar retailers of physical media are having a rough time of it. I have no doubt that some of them will survive, in some form, but it’s going to be a painful transition, with the outcome still unclear. I think it’s safe to say that the physical media retail industry (books, music, movies, etc.) of 2020 is going to look very different from today.

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