Laura Dawson thinks so, and I respectfully disagree. Here is what she said:
There will be fewer brick and mortar bookstores. By a factor of a lot. Possibly a third of bookstores in the US will close when Borders is finished with its death spiral and Barnes & Noble and successful independents have picked up what business makes sense in those locations. But for that newly-deprived third of bookstore customers? Where will they get their books?
How long do you think it will be before they realize that if they order ebooks, they don’t have to wait even 24 hours before they get what they want? How long do you think it will be before instant gratification means that suddenly these underserved areas are hotbeds of ebook consumption?
I have a couple reasons to disagree.
When it comes to buying ebooks, the cost is too high and the process is too difficult. The only store that makes it easy to buy ebooks is Amazon. B&N comes in second (becuase of the 3G on the Nook), but have you seen their site? It’s not easy to navigate.
My other reason is that I don’t think most people are that adaptable. People will continue to buy paper books because that’s what they’re used to doing. Now, Amazon will pick up a lot of sales, but that’s going to be in paper books, not ebooks.
My opinion on adaptability is based on my own personal experience. I am a not too old geek, and I would rather not tell you how long I knew and used Google before I stopped pondering “What about X?” and switched to “Let’s Google X and see what comes up”. Most people won’t make the leap from one to the next without someone to show them the way. We would need a critical mass of ebook fans before ebooks could expand into that bookstore deprived third of the population, and we just don’t have it yet.