As publishing goes electronic, and the hype about the Ipad, Kindle, and other reader technologies, evolves, and drives behavior changes, publishers need to consider how they are going to market, as most consumption of books is still generated by seeing it, physically in the bookstore. This is particularly true in the case of gifts, which is a very large part of the book market. As stores go out of business, how do publishers replace the awareness of a new book, the “feel” of it from the shelf, the pleasure of the interaction at point of purchase?
Amazons Kindle generally allows the first chapter to be downloaded before purchase, but will that be enough?
As in most other retail categories, the probable answer is that the generalist, mass market shops will decline radically in numbers, partly replaced by both specialist retailers who carry a depth of range of a particular genre, huge mega stores in cheap locations, and perhaps hole in the wall retailers with a printer/binder where you can order and print off the book, or part of the book wanted on the spot.
Whatever happens, the status quo has been busted wide open.