What about the Internet?

May 1997
by Curt Matthews, IPG/Chicago Review Press

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Will the Internet radically change the book business, not to speak of civilization as we know it? Not quite yet, in my opinion.

The Growing Internet Marketplace

Here are some reasons why I may be dead wrong in my previous statement. Amazon (the cyberspace bookstore) continues to grow at the rate of 25% a month, according to their press releases. Barnes & Noble has rolled out a huge website and is planning to stock several hundred thousand new titles in their distribution center. Borders will not be far behind. The national wholesalers are also talking about adding hundreds of thousands of titles to their databases to prepare for the expected onslaught of Internet-generated business. And of course every self-respecting publisher and distributor now has a web page of its own where books can be ordered.

Much greater choice for the consumer is the idea driving all of this activity. Who could possibly object to having more choices? Internet bookselling will certainly make many more titles easily available to just about everybody.Our Shopping Alternatives

When I take a step back from all of the hoopla and think about how I actually operate as a consumer, I find I am not very interested in having practically infinite choices. Usually the problem is to narrow down the options to the point where a good choice can be made. If, for instance, I need a book about how to take care of my cat, I would like to chose from perhaps six or eight books, all of them of high quality.

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