Seth Godin responds to a New York Times story about the impact Wal-Mart is having on innovation in the toy business.
A few years ago, similar concerns were raised by Canadian publishers, who are pressed on both sides by the Wal-Mart and Chapters-Indigo behemoths. Publishers have to choose between marginal profits on large volumes of sales through the giant retailers, or missing out on sales altogether.
I haven't seen much in the media lately about the publshers' conundrum. This 2003 post on Dooney's Cafe suggests small publishers and small bookstores continue to be squeezed to extinction by the big box store syndrome.
The commoditization of books leads stores and publishers to focus on bestsellers and proven series like the Dummies books.
I wonder if the rise of online ordering is giving small publishers any kind of second life. You would think the distribution/profit margin issues that keep a big retailer from stocking a wide selection of new poetry books in each of their locations could be overcome if they only had to keep stock in one warehouse somewhere.
But I don't hold out a lot of hope that Amazon.ca and Chapters.ca are leading to a renaissance in Canadian publishing. I'll have to pump some of my publishing friends for a glimpse at how they are surviving in the new marketplace.