One of the biggest surprises for me after the collapse of Borders in 2011 was the failure of Barnes & Noble to step in and grab those customers.
But at the time Barnes & Noble seemed so enamoured with its Nook project that it was busy looking the other way as Amazon upped its print sales game and independent bookstores made all the running.
Then almost six years later Family Christian filed for bankruptcy, with 240 bookstore closures, dealing another blow to print’s survival odds in the US.
But as Publishers Weekly reports, indie bookstores have been very active in stepping in to pick up the pieces, and compete with Amazon at the same time.
When Family Christian was liquidated its stock was sold off, and Amazon stepped in to buy it for a token sum, then marketing it a low prices.
Despite this, Publishers Weekly reports a number of indie bookstores have opened to fill the gap, often in the same locations, and sales are healthy both for new and existing stores.
One example cited is of an existing store that saw a 20% increase in sales after Family Christian folded, and if the PW report findings are echoed across the USA then some good will have come from the Family Christian failure.
But it’s very likely many – perhaps the majority – of Family Christian’s print and ebook customers went to Amazon.
Just how many, only Amazon will know, although it’s possible Data Guy may have some indications for the Christian books sector’s growth in ebook and print sales on Amazon when the next Author Earnings Report comes out later this year.