I see this is a big boon for the holiday shopping season. Despite what the evening news keeps trying to tell me, the U.S. economy is far from robust at the moment. And if I'm any gauge, I know that my online shopping reaches a peak at holiday time. I live thousands of miles from most of my family, so buying online and shipping packages to my parent's house has been a lifesaver ever since I moved out west.
But other than that? It's highly unlikely this price war will effect my book shopping one way or the other. For one thing, I buy very few hard covers as a rule (only Tess Gerritsen, Laura Levine and Loren Estleman) and I don't read a ton of bestsellers (honestly, Gerritsen's about it). Also, when I order books online, I'm either downloading ebooks via Harlequin or I'm ordering erotica. To this day, I still make about 90% of my erotic romance and erotica purchases online. And frankly, neither Walmart or Target are going to start carrying Harlequin Spice, Black Lace, Avon Red, Kensington Aphrodisia and Berkley Heat titles any time
It's been interesting to follow the various discussions online. I think Jane might be on to something when she speculates that this may "lead to the erosion of hardcovers altogether." A lot of readers believe hard cover = "real" book. Naturally, that's a bunch of horse-hooey, but this belief does exist. Will hard covers still be seen as "real" books if you can get a brand new John Grisham for $8.99? And what will that mean for mass market paperback pricing? I mean, hello?! A brand new paperback tends to cost around $7.99!
Other commentary online is focusing on the poor independent booksellers, who can not compete with these deep discounts.
Excuse me while I go cough up a hair ball.
I tend to get bitchy when anyone mentions those poor, unfortunate independents to my face because I've had nothing but terrible experiences with them over the years. By and large all independents have done is sneer, turn up their nose, and dismiss the romance genre (and therefore, it's readers). I'm obviously a brain-dead moron for reading such drivel and so incredibly stupid that it's a wonder I could figure out how to open the door and walk into their store.
So yeah, excuse me while I don't feel sorry for the independents.
Now certainly, there are exceptions. You have independents like Turn The Page Bookstore, which a lot of readers rave about. Although I'm not sure that one counts since the owner is married to Nora Roberts, and therefore obviously has a brain in his head. Also, I've been in some fabulous romance friendly used bookstores over the years - some of which even sell a selection of new titles on the side. But since their bread and butter tends to be "used" - I'm not sure they count either.
Which is why I keep throwing my money around at evil "big box" bookstores like Borders and Barnes & Noble. For me, it all comes down to selection. I know what I want. I know what I like. And I'm going to give my business to whomever can provide that. If you won't? I'm not darkening your doorstep. Viva la capitalism!
All of which leaves me with what, exactly? I still don't feel sorry for independents (learn to help yourselves assholes!) and all this hullabaloo is unlikely to change the way I buy books. At all. However, I'm still left with one question (OK, two). Will these deeply discounted books be enough to sway buying online-phobes to changing their ways? Will they get past their dislike and/or discomfort to save a few bucks to get the new Stephen King? And will this be enough to make Walmart a real threat in the online marketplace?
Time will tell.