Used Books Beat New Books In E-Book Industry

There’s some bad news in the book business.

On Monday, January 28th, 2013, Barnes & Noble announced it will close 200 stores over the next 10 years as reading habits changes and digital takes over.

It began in 2008 with the release of Amazon’s Kindle, then Barnes & Noble’s Nook, followed by Apple’s iPad. 5 years later, many say “swiping” has taken the place of turning a page and some are even wondering if paper cuts have become obsolete.

However, the Quad Cities’ Bob Applegate sees the book business a little differently.

“Business is good,” says Bob, who co-owns The Book Rack with his wife, Claudia. “It’s growing from year to year.”

Bob took WQAD on a tour of their Moline store on Monday afternoon, showing us shelf after shelf of new, but mostly used, stories. Bob says that is what’s helping The Book Rack and hurting the big book stores.

In addition to Barnes & Noble’s news, Borders shut down all its stores in 2011, including the one in Davenport.

Bob says both companies had, or are having, the same struggles.

“They have very high overhead,” says Bob. “They’re competing directly with the e-books. Our books are used, most of them, so they are books you can’t get on the e-books because they never come out and they never will because there’s just not a big enough market for them.”

The basis of Bob’s business is making a market for everyone… from bestsellers to small sellers and everything – without the “e” – in between.

“People who are readers love used books stores,” says Bob. “You never know what you’re going to find.”

The Book Rack is located at 3937 41st Avenue Drive in Moline, right off John Deere Road in the same strip mall as Starbucks, Complete Nutrition, and Chipotle. There is also a new location off Elmore Avenue in Davenport, near  Bob and his wife moved The Book Rack that was in Duck Creek Plaza in Bettendorf to that location in September 2012 because they needed more room.

WQAD called Barnes & Noble’s Corporate Office on Monday to find out if the Davenport location is on the “cut list.” They have not returned our calls. Barnes & Noble has been closing about 15 stores a year for the last 10 years. At the same time, they’re moving into a new market. The chain plans to open more than 600 college bookstores in the next 10 years.

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