The post is also about libraries, as so many of the challenges and solutions bookstores are seeking are familiar to anyone in the library profession. In particular, the shift away from a "book warehouse" to a place to go for ambiance and other retail goods. Shatzkin's observation that a slow down in ebook sales has little value for brick and mortar stores if there is no change in the growing market of online purchasing is a prescient one. I would add that this does not touch on the generational differences as well. For example, while I am a technologist and was one of the first librarians in the world to circulate ereaders, I have gone back to print because I like them better. It is hard to say if younger generations will feel the same, because they are growing up in a different ecosystem where the myriad number of positive influences I had with books growing up create that emotional attachment. Early studies indicate a high adoption rate in younger readers. I just unpacked all my books (Yay!), and it felt wonderful. My 4 year old son also loved seeing the books come out of the boxes, but the rest of the kids in the neighborhood look at them like they are foreign objects.
I highly recommend reading the post in its entirety, as there are so many relevant analogues to our profession. Shatzkin's description of the willful blindness of of bookstore advocates reminds me so much of our own profession's unwillingness to consider negative outcomes. His description of shrinking shelf space reminds me of our own discussion to reduce print collections to open up space for other activities. It is a fascinating read with lots to chew on.
There are some obvious advantages we have over bookstores. First, we have a different funding stream, and our resources are not directly incurred by our patrons. But that is also a disadvantage as any big changes or adaptions can be subject to intense scrutiny. Our lack of profit motive also endears us to our patrons. But regardless, the fate of bookstores and libraries are probably closely related.