How One Small Bookstore Outwitted Amazon

The Harvard Book Store installed its own printer
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2012 2:40 PM CDT
Updated May 12, 2012 3:11 PM CDT
How One Small Bookstore Outwitted Amazon
The conundrum for bookstores: How to compete with Amazon?   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The Amazon steamroller is crushing one neighborhood bookstore after another—which is why Phil Johnson felt sympathy for the man who took over the Harvard Book Store. "I respected his mission, even if I didn’t quite believe in its future," Johnson writes in Forbes. But over a coffee, the new owner, Jeff Mayersohn, revealed "with a certain amount of pride and pleasure" that the store's sales had seen double-digit growth every month for the past year.

How so? Mayersohn had installed a printing press to compete with Amazon. The so-called Espresso Book Machine has access to nearly five million titles, include Google Books and out-of-print titles, and can print each one in about four minutes. "It might sound audacious to say that one bookstore devised a strategy to counter the long reach of Amazon," writes Johnson. "But it’s no more audacious than Amazon’s conviction in 1999 that you could sell books over the Internet." Click for the full article. (Read more Amazon stories.)

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