Bookstores: Survival of the Fittest

It’s perhaps the most fundamental concept of any effective business model – adaptation.

Adapt to market conditions, adapt to gains and losses, adapt to branding efforts.

Halfway through 2011 with brick-and-mortar bookstores dropping like flies, the ones that want to stay afloat better adapt and better adapt fast, said Scott Barton of CB Richard Ellis’ retail division.

“The ones who survive are going to have to have a niche,” he said. “They’ll be less about selling books as they are about other things.”

The Booksellers at Laurelwood (formerly Davis-Kidd) does a good job of that already, Barton said, with Bronte, their Vera Bradley and greeting card section, and a very large book reading area. Still, the future is far from certain.

“In order to make it, (bookstores) have had to have some concessions from landlords just to be able to survive,” Barton said. “Even the right formula is not a guarantee for success. That’s why I think we’ll have sort of a new normal. You can go to and get a better selection than any bookstore, so if you’re just going to get a book, increasingly I think people will go elsewhere.”

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