Public libraries now outnumber retail bookstores by two to one in the United States, and are fast becoming the only in-person book browsing option for the residents of many communities.
This is an interesting effect in the development around books, publishers, writers and readers. One consequence of this will be that publishers soon don’t have any physical outlets part from the libraries. If the publishers realize this predicament they can take two different paths
- boost their presence and build their market base around physical contact with customer together with libraries
- or, since libraries are not very responsible to commercial logic, increase their transition speed towards a completely digital model where physical outlets becomes irrelevant
The outcome of this choice will have a fundamental impact on the future of libraries.