by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 15th 2007 2:19am
Similar to the RIAA's attempt to get radio stations to pay it for playing songs, it appears that another struggling industry is demanding payments from partners instead of adjusting to the changing market. BoingBoing points us to the story of a large Australian bookstore that apparently demanded that certain publishers pay it a fee to continue stocking their books. The publisher in this case sent back a rather caustic and mocking letter, calling the bookstore's bluff. We all know that the market for bookstores has changed drastically, thanks to the internet, but the answer clearly is not about stocking fewer books that people want or by artificially limiting what books you stock. Since the internet already has unlimited shelf space, you're only making things worse if you do that. Other booksellers have realized that they need to change and play up what makes them valuable beyond their shelf space -- doing such things as becoming destination sites, publishing their own books and playing up the expertise of the staff. Instead, this Australian bookseller has simply resorted to a weak and unsustainable payola scheme that will likely only hasten its demise. In fact, as this story becomes more well known, even fewer people will be interested in going to Angus & Robertson's bookstores, since they'll now know that the books aren't chosen by popularity, but by who will pay off A&R.
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