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    © 2014, Joseph B. Wikert
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May 15, 2005


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john Neidhart

Nice thought and I agree that this is a good idea in theory. But, and it's a big 'un, think of the numbers: 700 B&N's, $1000 for each new computer, maybe around $500 per kiosk - that's over $1M right there, before we even start talking about staff training, system integration issues... the list goes on and on. Would Wiley (or any other publisher) fund this? If so, what kind of deal would have to be struck? I can only imagine...

It's important to remember that, at B&N, what they are doing now is working - share price is up, sales are up, market share is hanging in there, overall.

For the average book customer, B&N offers a great shopping experience that goes well beyond simply filling a pre-existing desire for a particular book. Customers go to bookstores wanting to be seduced to buy, to participate in a social experience that transcends need. Kiosks, at least right now, will do little to improve the average customer's shopping experience.

Joe Wikert

I'm not so sure a publisher would want to swallow the hardware money, that's why I figured someone like Dell or Microsoft might come into play. $1M is chump change in their advertising budgets, and we all know how much both those companies are promoting to consumers. This would represent a completely new channel for them. These are only two examples though -- I'm sure there are other companies who might be interested.


The previous post and this one are all interesting ideas - but there are some little corrections to make.

First, Borders actually does have access to online for customers - they just hide it very very thoroughly, but you CAN get their in store catalog kiosks to hit the web if you can keep a Borders staff member from butting in. (They obviously have no clue at all).

Also in one of the posts someone commented about sales tax being a barrier to immediate fulfillment via online if the book is not in staock with delivery to your home. That is not an issue - sales tax is ALL based on the state of sale and purchaser. In fact B&N and Borders pretty much have to charge everyone sales tax since they are in every state.

My teeny tiny publishing company which does 80% plus of its sales online charges CA residents tax and nobody else.

Anyway, apart from that a very interesting discussion.

Naba Barkakati

Owen, I checked out the Press For Change Publishing web site ( and looked at the sample PDF from the Digital Dish title. A book about food writing from food blogs seems unique. I hope it does well and I hope after it's a success, you'd share your story with us. By the way, where is your site hosted- - I'm looking for a good webhosting site :-) Good luck with your endeavors!


good hosting (Naba) at - they are in Singapore and the US - not much in the way of support but they are VERY cheap and they are reliable

Marjorie Huber

They say change is the only constant thing in the world. And if that change is for good and for the betterment of one's status, then get on with it! Interesting insights Mr. Wikert. I must agree that MIT's Technology Review satisfies technology aficionados. Great post!

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